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Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail…

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail (1999)

by Malika Oufkir

Other authors: Michèle Fitoussi

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,736456,553 (3.76)47
Malika Oufkir has been a prisoner for virtually her whole life. Born into a proud Berber family in 1953, the eldest daughter of the King of Morocco's closest aide, Malika was adopted by Mohammed V as a royal ward and brought to live in the palace at Rabat to be a companion to his favourite little daughter. There she grew up locked away among the royal wives and concubines of the King's harem. After the old king died his successor Hassan II took over the role of her affectionate adoptive father. By the time she was allowed to leave the palace at the age of sixteen, she was one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, and tasted a couple of years of heady freedom amongst the international jetset. But in 1972, when Malika was eighteen, her father, General Oufkir, was arrested after an attempt to assassinate the king, and summarily executed. Malika, her beautiful mother and her five brothers and sisters - the youngest of whom was barely three years old - were thrown into a remote desert jail by the man Malika had only known as a loving surrogate father. The family was kept locked away without any communication with the outside world in increasingly barbaric and inhumane conditions, fighting a daily battle against malnutrition, disease, loneliness and despair. Then, after fifteen years of imprisonment, the last ten years of which they were locked up in solitary cells, the Oufkir children managed an audacious escape. Recaptured after five days, the public hue and cry created by their escape ensured that they were then submitted to house arrest rather than prison - but it was only in 1996, after her younger sister managed to flee the country, that Malika, robbed of the best years of her life, was allowed to leave Morocco and start a new life in France.… (more)

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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
The story of Malika Oufkir and her family was interesting but I didn't find the writing compelling enough. Malika, her mother, and siblings were imprisoned for 20 years following the execution of her father who attempted to assassinate the king of Morocco in 1972. To get plucked out of those pages of her early life of luxury in the palace and then on extravagant trips as a teen, into the dungeons of concealment when her entire family is taken away as if to be erased from existence is quite a hostile contrast. There were indeed moments where I felt nervous about what they had to undergo during their time in the desert jail and I was able to feel that sense of suffering and pain. However, it felt very much like reading a journal heavy on the emotion but leaving out possibly important details. Malika naturally shouldered a great deal of responsibility since she is the oldest child of her siblings, so that was to be expected. However it felt as if she was making a lot of her points from an arrogant, selfish point of view. Her family's plight to get out of jail seemed to be credited mostly to her strength and abilities to help her family cope rather than much else. Passages often contradicted one another which made it confusing to separate fact from her memory. I think this book needed stronger writing or at the very least, another once-over from an editor. The subject matter was certainly fascinating enough to have deserved this. ( )
  ThePdawg | Jan 14, 2018 |
i don't know exactly why i didn't enjoy this. her life was so horrible. ( )
1 vote mahallett | Sep 7, 2016 |
Morocco's privilege to nothing — luxury when adopted daughter in Palace then whole family (father shot) to jail

A gripping memoir that reads like a political thriller--the story of Malika Oufkir's turbulent and remarkable life. 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, one of the most eligible heiresses in the kingdom, surrounded by luxury and extraordinary privilege.
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  christinejoseph | Jul 19, 2016 |
Review: Stolen Lives by Malika Oufkir. This is an amazing true story. I wasn’t to sure about the story at first because it started out slow but not to far into the book it captivated my interest and I couldn’t believe what this family went through for so many years. This is Malika’s story and she narrates from her point of view but after reading the book I thought Malika’s mother and five siblings were all treated horribly inhumanely. Their father, General Mohammed Oufkir attempted to murder King Hassan II of Morocco and was caught and executed and his family paid twenty years in a secluded prison for his crime. What makes the story fascinating was that Malika was adopted by King Hassan II when she was five to be a sister/companion to his daughter, Princess Lalla Mina. Once Malika turned eighteen her royal status no longer had any meaning with her birth father and he conspires to kill the King. Once this happened she returned to her birth mother and siblings. It wasn’t long before the King imprisoned Malika, her siblings and her mother as punishment for her father’s crime. Their imprisonment started out in a guarded house and after a short time they were moved to a secluded area in the desert and placed in isolated cells. As I read on I was amazed Malika was able to convey the hopelessness and hope, the physical changes, the emotional torments, the hunger and deprivation, fear and courage that they all endured during the twenty years in prison because it gives their story more power and allows for a glimpse into unimaginable existence. She was like a mother to her siblings by inventing games and telling fantasy stories throughout those years to encourage her family to stay alive. One day she finally came to the conclusion that they were all going to die so why not try to escape. It didn’t mater if they got caught because the way their health was they weren’t going to last much longer. With little strength she encouraged her family that they could get away. Even being watched closely they managed to work long and hard digging a tunnel with a spoon, a small iron bar and a cover to a can to gain freedom. Four of them managed to escape but became discouraged when they couldn’t get any one to help them and wherever they went they were looked on as suspicious. Malika was frustrated and felt escaping wasn’t getting them their freedom. Finally one day someone listened….Hassan II wasn’t looking good in the eyes of his people. He knew he had to take action and undo what he had done. So he imprisoned the family in another home under guard with plenty of food but no freedom….while he kept telling them they would be released soon….but soon didn’t come for another five years…. ( )
1 vote Juan-banjo | May 31, 2016 |
Compelling true-life events are told in a haphazard manner with no “story telling” ability. Although I was intellectually horrified at what this family was subjected to and amazed at their determination to survive, the story was told with such detachment that I consequently felt emotionally detached. I know it’s nonfiction but I expected to FEEL something and the cold, disjointed litany of facts left me wanting. Her descriptions of everything (from people, to events, to material aspects of her world) were often disconcertingly contradictory, sometimes within the same paragraph, so it was difficult to form a clear picture of reality (e.g., she loved living in the palace, she hated living in the palace; she loved the feeling of freedom while riding horses, she did anything she could to get out of riding horses, etc.). Maybe this duality is a consequence of coping with an entire life experience, one way or another, of imprisonment and oppression? ( )
  Sandra_Berglund | Apr 4, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Malika Oufkirprimary authorall editionscalculated
Fitoussi, Michèlesecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Schwartz, RosTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Ich widme dieses Buch den "Bibern".
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Für meine Tochter Lea, an die ich das ganze Buch über gedacht habe.
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