LEAVING TANGIER

TAHAR BEN JELLOUN

Morocco is not a good place to be young. Even if you are educated there are still no jobs. In Tangier young people gaze North across the water dreaming about leaving for Spain where life is better than in Morocco. Azel has finished his law degree but has no prospects. “I have a diploma but no money, job or car. . . . [I’m] ready to do anything to get the hell out of here, leave this whole country behind except for some memories and a few postcards.” One of Azel’s best friends drowned while being smuggled to Spain which is not unusual. Azel knows there’s a faster way. So he tumbles into an affair with a much older, wealthy Spaniard named Miguel, who has a penchant for fallen young Moroccan men and “the olive sheen of their skin.” In many ways Miguel treats Azel well. Azel works in Miguel’s art business and Miguel actually converts to Islam so he can marry Axel’s sister so she can get Spanish citizenship. But Azel is straight and eventually the relationship falls apart.

Leaving Tangier conveys the desperation of poverty. An excellent read and a good insight into the culture of Morocco.

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