Cover image for Stolen lives : twenty years in a desert jail
Stolen lives : twenty years in a desert jail
Oufkir, Malika, 1953-
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Prisonnière. English
Large print edition.
Publication Information:
Rockland, MA : Wheeler, [2001]

Physical Description:
431 pages : illustrations, 1 map ; 24 cm
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HV9841 .O8413 1999B Adult Large Print - Floating collection Floating Collection - Large Print

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Born in 1953, Malika Oufkir was the eldest daughter of General Oufkir, the King of Morocco's closest aide. Adopted by the king at the age of five, Malika spent most of her childhood and adolescence in the seclusion of the court harem, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.Then, on August 16, 1972, her father was arrested and executed after an attempt to assassinate the king. Malika, her five younger brothers and sisters, and her mother were immediately imprisoned in a desert penal colony. After twenty years, the last ten of which they spent locked up in solitary cells, the Oufkir children managed to dig a tunnel with their bare hands and make an audacious escape. Recaptured after five days, Malika was finally able to leave Morocco and begin a new life in exile in 1996.A heartending account in the face of extreme deprivation and the courage with which one family faced its fate, Stolen Lives is an unforgettable story of one woman's journey to freedom.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

The ways that people hurt one another are always hard to fathom, and why they do so is another mystery. It is true that General Oufkir probably led the 1972 attempted coup and assassination of King Hassan of Morocco. However, Oufkir's wife and children, including Malika, found out about it only after his execution. Still, guilt by association condemned them, without a trial, to more than 20 years of imprisonment, including more than a decade of near starvation and torture. What makes all this harder to understand is that Malika had been adopted by then king Mohammed when she was five. As the primary playmate of the king's beloved daughter, she was surrounded by luxury and treated as royalty. After the coup attempt, Malika and other members of her family were exiled to an abandoned fort in the countryside. Within four years they were moved to the Bir-Jdid prison, where their worst torment began. They would not see one another or sunlight for more than a decade. The physical toll of years of this treatment was bad enough, but the emotional toll was far more devastating. By the time they dug their way to freedom in 1987, they were emaciated skeletons. However, even then it would be another nine years before they were totally free. The question of why it happened is never really answered, but this is an extremely effective and graphic picture of what evil is like from the vantage point of its most innocent victims. --Marlene Chamberlain

Publisher's Weekly Review

Brychta's suave and subtle Arabic lilt perfectly capture this first-person narration of a Moroccan family's harsh exile as punishment for the transgressions of its patriarch. After enjoying a fairy tale upbringing as the adopted daughter of King Muhammad V in his palace, Oufkir, along with her mother and siblings, was imprisoned in a succession of desert jails after her father engineered a failed coup against the king's heir, King Hassan II, in 1972. The Oufkirs were forced to endure 20 years of solitude, infested prison cells and the ever-worsening depravity of their captors. Oufkir worked with Fitoussi to produce a crisp memoir that bristles with imagery, perhaps owing to Oufkir's continual storytelling in jail to try to keep her family's misery temporarily at bay. The production is gracefully laced with haunting Middle Eastern airs, which, in conjunction with Brychta's voice, render a truly otherworldly feel. A central tension here is in the currency of a story that seems possible only in an age long gone. A chronicle of endurance and the aftereffects of a grim ordeal, this engaging recording inspires as just as much indignation as it does admiration. Based on the Talk Miramax hardcover (Forecasts, Jan. 29). (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Oufkir, the child of a general, was adopted at the age of five by King Mohammed and brought up as a companion to his daughter. Eleven years later, she returned home to a three-year adolescence of wealth and privilege, where she consorted with movie stars and royalty. In 1961, Hassin II succeeded his father as king, and Oufkir's father was executed after staging a coup against the new regime. For the next 15 years, Oufkir, her mother, and her five siblings were confined to a desert prison and subjected to inhuman conditions. Oufkir's description of their day-to-day survival during these years is the heart of the book. The family finally escaped by digging a tunnel, were recaptured, and today live in Paris, where Oufkir eventually found love and marriage with a French architect. A best seller in France, this riveting story will find an audience here, but just how much of an audience is yet to be determined. Recommended for all general collections. Frances Sandiford, Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Michele Fitoussi
Prefacep. 1
Part 1 Allee des Princesses
1 My Beloved Motherp. 11
2 The King's Palace 1958-1969p. 22
3 The Oufkir House 1969-1972p. 64
Part 2 Twenty Years in Prison
4 A Year in the Desert 25 December 1972-8 November 1973p. 103
5 The Walls of Tamattaght 8 November 1973-26 February 1977p. 116
6 Bir-Jdid Prison 26 February 1977-19 April 1987p. 136
7 Escaped Prisoners 19 April-24 April 1987p. 196
8 Marrakesh I July 1987-19 February 1991p. 257
9 A Strange Kind of Freedomp. 276
Postscriptp. 289
Authors' Notep. 291
Acknowledgementsp. 293
About the Authorsp. 295