A cross between kiss-and-tell and curse-and-tell, Malika Mokeddem’s memoir of the men in her life presents a mosaic of relationships defining what it is to be a woman, an immigrant, a doctor, and a citizen of an uncertain world. From her childhood days in French colonial Algeria to her later years as a doctor in Paris and a writer in Montpellier, Mokeddem traces the path of a brilliant girl in a world of men. Anorexia, insomnia, financial independence, escapism in books, atheism, self-imposed exile, painting, and the poetics of free love—such are the various ways in which she has responded to discrimination.
Mokeddem hauntingly describes how her literary and medical careers blossomed along with her sexuality and her desire to escape the gender bias that shackled Algerian tradition. At once a scathing critique of Algerian patriarchy and a soaring tribute to the men who opened a window on the world, Mokeddem’s story is a fascinating portrait of gender as it is actually felt, lived, and never left behind.
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