Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail


Read an Excerpt

STOLEN LIVES is a book that reads like an adventurous movie script
--- the author is the eldest daughter of a Moroccan general who was
adopted by the King at the age of five and brought up as a
companion to his own child. She was a harem member with special
privileges, the least of which was her desired eligibility for
marriage when she came of age. In 1972, however, General Oufkir was
arrested for a plot to assassinate the King, and Malika's entire
family --- five siblings and her mother --- were then imprisoned in
a penal colony. They were there for 15 years, at the end of which
they were able to, with their hands only, dig a tunnel out of their
cells and escape, only to be captured again five days later. In
1996, Malika was able to leave Morocco and live in exile far away
from there, prompting her fascinating book.

It's hard to believe, with all we know about the insanity enacted
upon innocent people in many countries around the world throughout
history, that this type of harem tale, as shocking and upsetting as
it is, is actually true. Oufkir's telling of her family's plight is
without hard edges, without melodramatic flair --- instead, she
simply allows the facts of their lives to express the dire horror
and fear under which the family lived for so long. It is this
expressive simplicity and sticking to the facts that makes the
story so eminently readable. As haunting as it is, the story
manages to play itself out with just the right details, like a
perfectly wrought motion picture. Yet, you never forget that this
is a true story.

Oufkir's honesty and forthrightness about the strangeness of her
young life and the oppression of her later life add up to a
survivor's story that everyone will find meritorious, inspiring and

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano on January 23, 2011

Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail

  • Publication Date: May 1, 2002
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Miramax
  • ISBN-10: 0786886307
  • ISBN-13: 9780786886302