A riveting debut novel of fathers and daughters, and the conflict between duty and desire, set in rural Morocco and urban Cataluña
About the book
The Last Patriarch is narrated by the daughter of Mimoun Driouch - the patriarch of the title - from his birth to her entrance into university. Mimoun believes that life on his parents' land is not his destiny" and so we follow his journey from rural Morocco to urban Cataluña. Mimoun's own violent nature and paranoia leads to frustration and rage, which he duly takes out on his wife and children. "This was not his destiny - this phrase is repeated almost like a mantra for Mimoun, who truly believes he is meant for great things. However, as the years pass, it begins to sound hollow; he does not escape the limitations of the role assigned to him by the patriarchal system, but his daughter will.El Hachmi looks at the role of women within a patriarchal culture while tackling more contemporary issues such as immigration and integration, as well as the fractured identity that results from having roots in two very distinct cultures. It is at once a powerful saga of a Moroccan family and a story of a girl's struggle to find her own identity and break free of a domineering father.
An exciting fictional take on politics and the family
El Hachmi excels in her portrayal... never simplistic about oppression... The Last Patriarch works on all its levels: a document of the changes assailing modern Morocco; a story of the suffering and success of migration; and a feminist diatribe on how desire and courage can defeat patriarchal values. Najat El Hachmi's narrative poise, humour and fresh, unrepressed language turn her painful subject matter into a pleasure to read
A lively depiction of family life in Morocco and Catalonia
El Hachmi's searing Bildungsroman boldly mixes family and cultural history, feminist polemic and satirical humour, and won Catalonia's prestigious Ramon Llull prize... The undercurrent of menace in the complicated relationship between father and daughter is leavened by the buoyancy of the translation and El Hachmi's light, conversational writing; the ending is truly transgressive