The first time I checked the Ali Anthony Bell webpage, I first got interested in the « From the Red city to the white house » book. The title attracted my attention, and I started to imagine what the book will be about. First thought, a guy from The red city; Marakesh (The land of God) who could make it to the White House (USA), and realizes his American dream. Now that I read the novel I could tell that we (Moroccans) are immersed by the American dream inside without us being necessarily aware of it. I started reading the novel and discovered that the white house is not actually what I reckoned at the beginning.
The beginning of the novel was normal, I read smoothly through the first chapters, it was smooth reading as the novel is written in an autobiographical style, and in the present tense with simple English. A novel I would recommend for English learners. As I kept on reading, I enjoyed the events and it did not feel at all as if I was reading a text but as if somebody is narrating the story for me in a soft voice, in front of pieces of art.
The novel allows the reader to discover Morocco through the eyes of an American who lives what I could tell a true Moroccan life not only staying in a hotel and visiting tourist sites and then leaving. But interacting with the locals. I could relate to many events of the novel, although the writer raised some points that I have been trying to ignore, he shed light on some darkest points. At a certain point, I felt discouraged to continue reading, as the novel reminds me of « Bread alone » by Mohammed Chokri or the novels of Fatiha Morchid that I actually read and regret them as they mainly tackle topics like prostitution, sex workers, premarital sex…. Issues I believe exist in Morocco but still, I just do not wanna know about them as there are many other bright sides I am focusing on. There are other phenomena that were tackled in the novel that are unfortunately real, the hypocrisy and dishonesty that -because we got used to it- we consider normal, but from the eye of a stranger we could see that there are things that should be reconsidered.
The novel is not all doom and gloom, it showed some of the Moroccan values help and generosity.
« From the red city to the white house » was much more interesting. I especially liked the fact that it is based on true events. The main character Ali Anthony or after embracing Islam Ali is really inspiring! Anybody reading could relate to his adventures. We all go through a spin of endless problems but still, we manage to get out and realize that everything happens for a reason. Moreover, the novel showed how strong faith can help us go through storms. I feel as I finished reading the novel that I nourished my artistic eye. I loved how the main character sees art and meaning in everything even in people’s names, we are meant to have our names and we have them for a reason. The novel allows the reader to reflect on the topic of free will linked to destiny and meaning.
My favorite quotes from the novel:
« Without belief, we may ask ourselves
“Why me? What did I do to deserve this difficulty?” Being certain that everything has a reason and a purpose takes away this feeling of being treated unfairly by life and gives us the inner peace necessary to patiently persevere. My newfound faith reassures me that I am protected, loved, and will find my way. »
« I can’t do anything for the moment, so I lose myself, I
escape into the fiction world of the screenplay I’m translating, just like I had done so many times in my youth by reading to escape my hard reality.
« Even though I’ve accepted the situation, I’m still boiling inside, and I certainly don’t want to accept his help, or to pay him for helping me. It’s easy to say that Allah is in control of the master plan, but it’s hard not to be angry »
(reviewed 28 days after purchase)