Leo Africanus- Maalouf
This week’s commentary reflects on the start of Amin Maalouf’s novel, “Leo Africanus.” His writing style is fictional, but she uses historical events and people to add validity to the story. The book takes place in Grenada, Spain during the late 15th century. This location was chosen purposely to depict Grenada’s mixture of religions; mainly Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. Additionally, Maalouf aimed to give a contextual representation of society, especially in terms of family structure.
Pages 1-100 introduced Leo Africanus’ family. His mother Salma was late to conceive, causing her husband Muhammed to bring home a slave-girl, Warda, for a mistress. Ultimately, they both become pregnant, and Salma is lucky enough to birth Muhammed’s first son. This sets the stage for Africanus’ life while conveying the struggle and hardships women endure in the 1400s.
I appreciate Maalouf’s literary interpretation of Leo Africanus’ life. I think I am enlightened by history in a new way because the style of her writing is so fictional. Although I am vaguely familiar with Grenada’s history in the 15th century, the story seems well researched and historically accurate to a degree. I am excited to gain a worldly and realistic perspective of this era that I have not yet attained.
My question is in regards to the machismo nature of the society portrayed. How has the flow of globalization brought this heavily male dominated order to be? How does present-day Grenada relate/contrast to that of the country during the 15th century?