The ending to this book is so poignant, not what I was expecting, but is so fitting for the end of this unusual book. I struggle to define it. It’s part-memoir, part-travel book, part-Arabic history, part-language, and ALL Spain. As usual with Jason Webster, Spain comes alive off every page.
Here he travels around Spain looking for the Moorish heritage just beneath the skin of this modern country. And he finds it in abundance, in places he did not expect, and sometimes in uncomfortable circumstances. He goes on a road trip with Zine, a Moroccan in Spain illegally, but who gives Webster and insight into Spain through Arabic eyes.
Webster handles his subject confidently, he is an Arabic speaker after all, though sometimes there was a fraction too much history for me. But always Zine’s story, his romantic adventures, his excitement, his depressions, kept me reading. The dislike of some Spaniards to their Moorish history made me feel uncomfortable, highlighting the chequered history Spain has had with its invaders from Visigoths and Romans to Moors. Webster visits one Andalucían highlight after another, all places which feature on the wish list of any foreign visitor to Southern Spain – Granada’s Alhambra, Córdoba’s Mesquita, Sevilla’s Alcázar – plus Moorish outposts in the north too such as Toledo and Barcelona.
But the end of the story is in Casablanca, with Zine.
‘Andalus’ by Jason Webster [UK: Black Swan]
5 to remember
tan conmovedor – so poignant
con confianza – confidently
una visión de – an insight into
tal como – such as
uno después del otro – one after another