The Tripoli in the 1960s, is the city of women. They knit the urban and social networks, carry on the house and family responsibilities, but they are also the object of lust and victims of their aggressive husbands or lovers. The children are nurtured by their stories and melancholy, while their childhood is passing fast, under the impact of the adults everyday's struggles.
This is the Tripoli Kamal Ben Hameda which lives for decades in Europe. A mysterious, delicious, secret and imbued with unheard of spices and sweet juices. A diverse city where the representatives of various religions are aware of each other's presence and difference. A Tripoli of sad and melancholic and lonely souls.
The relatively short book is an account of memories and personal stories, following a very simple narrative flow. It is the memory that counts and the writer's effort is to recreate with words feelings and environments, events and ambiances that ceased to exist for a long time.
After Hisham Matar, Kamal Ben Hameda is the second Libyan author I've got to know. Hameda wrote mostly poetry and is involved in various jazz projects, especially in the Netherlands.
His evocative and poetic storytelling art is a testimony of old times, that were most probably interrupted by the political aggressions of the last decades. Although the book is placed in a geographically precise location and is taking place at a specific time moment, it uses the power of words to create worlds and keep memories alive.
Rating: 4 stars