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The Last Patriarch
Cover of The Last Patriarch
The Last Patriarch
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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 Catalua. 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.

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 Catalua. 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.

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About the Author-
  • Najat El Hachmi was born in Morocco in 1979. At the age of eight, she emigrated to Catalonia, Spain with her family. Her novel The Last Patriarch [9781846687174] won the prestigious Ramon Llull Prize in 2008. She has published one other book, an autobiographical work called I Too Am Catalan.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    August 1, 2011
    El Hachmi's debut novel follows a forward-thinking man from the countryside of Morocco to Catalonia, Spain, where his uncle meets him and promises: "You'll miss a lot of things, Mimoun, but you'll soon find others to make up for them." On this first trip abroad Mimoun Driouch leaves behind the girl whose family has accepted his marriage proposal. He returns to marry her, but becomes violent and obsessed with the need to control his young wife while he indulges in women, drink, and hashish. He comes and goes, having children and expecting his family to stay in Morocco while he enjoys the pleasures of Spain, until his daughter, the child he yearned for, unlike other families who hope for sons, makes him change his ways. This girl narrates—"I was born on cue, although some say I came too early, timing that destroyed the family and provoked one of those upsets that pursues you throughout life"—and Mimoun mistakenly believes she will be obedient and easier to handle than his sons. Instead, she's the one who shames her father into sending for his wife and children to join him in Spain where he has been living with his mistress. Mimoun begins to realize his daughter is more than an extension of himself as she pores over the Catalan dictionary, arming herself with words which become her salvation. El Hachmi depicts the paternalistic society in myriad ways, from the women who lack names and are referred to only by their relationships to Mimoun's attempts to dictate the life of his daughter; ultimately, Mimoun as "the patriarch" is irrelevant for the next generation

  • Melissa Katsoulis

    An exciting fictional take on politics and the family

  • Michael Eaude

    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

  • Catherine Taylor

    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

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