Aicha, strong-willed and strait-laced, aspires to become a doctor and spends most of her time studying. Her free-spirited younger brother, Selim, falls in with the American and European hippies descending en masse on Tangier and Casablanca and Essaouira to do drugs and practice free love. Children of the revolution, now dreaming of a radiant future and experiencing the ecstatic first flush of desire against the backdrop of a country intoxicated by its own sense of freedom, Aicha and Selim soon find the ideals of their youth colliding with the realities of racism and corruption, as Moroccans once united against their colonizer make a grab for wealth and influence, and the national spirit of communal celebration gives way to elites telling everyone else to "watch us dance."
It is the claustrophobia and restriction of the family structure that Slimani’s narrative dissects with expert precision and perceptiveness, the characters’ trajectories in the outer world largely defined by their positions within the fold, and vice versa. She is particularly good at charting the experiences of women in a way that is both expansive and intimate ... Slimani’s writing is beautifully atmospheric and has a panoramic, classic quality, excellently translated here by Sam Taylor.