Monsieur Ibrahim et les fleurs du Coran from Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt
English title: Monsieur Ibrahim and the flowers of the Koran.
Reading the book in its original version, French, I was mesmerized by the simplicity yet philosophicaly deep writing style of the author. The use of daily words in contemplating daily reality depicts superbly how poetic and ironic human life is.
This book is about a friendship of Moïse, a 13 year old rejected boy, with Monsieur Ibrahim, an old and solitude widow who runs a grocery store. Moïse who has been denied love and affection from his father, hates everything about life. On the contrary, Monsieur Ibrahim, in his solitude and sorrow, embraces a simple philosophy of life that allows him to appreciate everything in his simple life.
After a sequence of conversation exchange spread out in a year, one sentence each time they met, the two of them then become befriended and found refuge in each other.
As the story unfold, one can easily be captured by simple yet witty understandings on social life structure presented in the book. Like this short paragraph when Momo and Monsieur Ibrahim went to le joli Paris, celui des touristes:
– C'est fou, Monsieur Ibrahim, comme les vitrines de riches sont pauvres. Y a rien là-dedans.
– C'est ça, le luxe, Momo, rien dans la vitrine, rien dans le magasin, tous dans le prix.
– It's crazy Monsieur Ibrahim, how the window diplays in the expensive shops are so poor, there is nothing inside.
– That's luxury Momo, nothing in the window, nothing in the shop, everything is in the price.
– Ca doit être chouette d'habiter Paris.
– Mais tu habites Paris, Momo.
– Non, moi j'habite rue bleue.
– It must be nice to live in Paris.
– But you live in Paris, Momo.
– No, I live in rue Bleue.
This short and comic paragraph, succeed in portraying the inequality between "Paris" and the suburb. (Remember the recent event of banlieu riot?) Don't be fooled with the glamour of Parisienne life (or any big city life), behind it often exists a miserable social inequality.
Monsieur Ibrahim's wisdom does not stop there. Do you know how garbage bin show the wealth of its neighbourhood? Do you know how your nose can tell you so many things about religion? Do you know the best way to travel? Do you know the simplest way to be happy? If you wish to know, you can learn it from Monsieur Ibrahim.
You may also learn to love a woman, as Monsieur Ibrahim says:
Pour un homme normal … ta beauté, c'est celle que tu trouves à la femme.