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another try

Sunday, May 07, 2006

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 bins 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.


  • moi j'ai vu la version cinematographique qui est pas mal, je dirais.

    justru saya malah ngga tau itu film saduran dari buku -ah, hari gini apa sih yg ngga diadaptasi, cross-media.

    anyhow, di film juga banyak hal-hal menyentuh.

    ada adegan tipikal EUR french, allez chez l'arab. teman saya Gregoire pun bilang, yah that's what everybody says telling their kids to go to the corner shop.

    M. Ibrahim juga menyentuh dg keinginan terakhirnya, menjual tokonya (puluhan taun ia tinggal di paris dan menjaga toko kelontong kesayangannya), beli mobil (mustang kah?) merah dan kembali turki yah kalo ngga salah. di desanya ia pun bilang, je suis chez moi.

    Plus si Momo yang tinggal di banlieue udah pelesiran dg pelacur di rue bleue.

    entah sebrp persis buku dan film-nya.


    By Blogger MACCHIATO, at May 07, 2006 2:40 PM  

  • addendum :

    pipit, saya ngga silau kok dg kehidupan parisienne. saya telah venture ke banlieue dan beyond. telah melihat sedikit kontras la capitale dan la province, le citadin dan le fermeur ... sedikit banyak.


    terakhir : iyah petuah M. Ibrahim ttg tong sampah distrik mewah - sgt menarik.

    By Blogger MACCHIATO, at May 07, 2006 2:43 PM  

  • aku udah liat filmnya (aktornya: Omar Sarif), aduh...bagus banget deh! antara memilukan, lucu, dan campur aduk gitu...suka banget.
    kalo ga salah, ini juga diangkat di teater, tp aku ga nonton, ga ada waktu pas nongol.

    By Anonymous naga, at May 08, 2006 9:39 PM  

  • About the garbage bin, it tells you many things more than someone's wealth. I think they also use garbage bin to investigate someone's habit etc. (in thriller movies hehe)

    Although I would like to know the correlation between nose and religion. Care to share, Pit ?

    By Anonymous silverlines, at May 10, 2006 1:11 PM  

  • Macchi dan Naga: Saya malah ketinggalan filmnya. Pas mau nonton sudah nggak ada lagi di bioskop. Untung temenku menghadiahkan buku ini, jadinya bisa tahu. Ceritanya terlalu bagus untuk dilewatkan.

    Macchi, kalau di buku, si Monsieur Ibrahimnya akhirnya beli mobil dan pergi ke Turki dengan Momo pakai mobil itu. Dan si Momo pun dapet warisan toko kelontongnya, dan tranform jadi 'Arab?. :)

    Silverlines: Ah...Monsieur Ibrahim's wisdom is funny yet accurate. You should read the book. To give you a snippet, according to Monsieur Ibrahim, if a place smelled like candles, then you are in a Catholic church. But if a place smelled like feet then you are in a Mosque. Feet smell, according to him, is natural and human. It is not supposed to be something to be ashamed of. There is more to it, for this, you need to read the book. hihihi...:)

    By Blogger Pipit, at May 10, 2006 4:34 PM  

  • Hahaha, that makes enough sense then. I thought it was more than a nose as in physical look or something phsysical.

    Read the book ? Uhmmm .. I'd love to, but I am avoiding myself to buy more books after finding out that I have 20ish books unread beside my bed ... :-(
    Maybe even 30ish. Bad shopper, eh?

    By Anonymous silverlines, at May 11, 2006 9:41 AM  

  • oh pipit yang baik hati, mohon maaf jikalau saya merampok entry yang satu ini ke blog saya... sorry lho

    By Blogger teh_manis, at May 31, 2006 3:10 PM  

  • brilliant book... i'll be examined on it in 2 days in my french exam ;)cheers to schmitt for the one school book i really enjoyed!

    By Blogger charmaine, at May 19, 2008 6:36 PM  

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