The Last Tobacco Fields

Publishing House: Al-Tanweer

Publication Year: 2020

Genre: Novel

Number of Pages: 160

In “The Last Tobacco Fields,” author Taher Al-Zahrani presents a beautifully simple and unembellished narrative set in an isolated village in Tihama. The story revolves around the life of a grandfather. His relationship with tobacco cultivation, and the transformative changes in the village. Following the construction of a road connecting it to the city and the imposition of state laws.

The novel symbolizes the end of an era. Reflecting a deep nostalgia for a past that is fading away, encapsulated in the line, “Every time I try to distance myself from this place, fate brings me back.”

It skillfully weaves a captivating fictional narrative by drawing from real-life events, creating a reservoir of tales.

Al-Zahrani’s writing style in “The Last Tobacco Fields” is characterized by its simplicity and ease, resembling a conversation with a skillful storyteller or watching a film that makes you feel intimately connected to the characters’ lives. This style differs markedly from his other works like “Children of the Path” and “The Fayoumi,” which either delve into heritage or adopt a more traditional, serious tone of the 1990s.

It navigates through two different worlds of the same family. Centering around the stories of Khidran the grandfather & Khidran the grandson. Al-Zahrani masterfully shifts the reader’s perspective between these two characters without confusion. The story chronicles the last tobacco fields in the village through the memories of the grandfather, juxtaposing the grandson’s contemporary life in 2019, the year the novel was written.

Khidran’s life changes dramatically due to his grandfather’s decisions, especially when he inherits an ancient fortress in the village. Leading to a moment of enlightenment that propels him to break free from his unhappy marriage in Jeddah. The novel explores his internal transformation as he prepares the fortress. While also delving into the grandfather’s past, his bold decision to cultivate tobacco despite legal prohibitions, and his clever maneuvers to evade government surveillance.

Khidran the grandson and his wife Reem has a complex relationship, marked by his acquiescence to her control. The novel touches upon the influence of the collective over individual rights in Arab society. Particularly in matters of love and marital choices.

Al-Zahrani’s narrative highlights the theme of forgiveness and understanding within family dynamics. It showcases the grandson’s ability to see his grandfather not just as an authority figure but as a human being with flaws and virtues. The novel also emphasizes the importance of friendship and resilience in overcoming life’s challenges.

Conclusion

“The Last Tobacco Fields” offers a unique glimpse into life in Saudi villages, capturing the essence of familial relationships, social transformations, and the journey of self-discovery. Al-Zahrani’s work stands out for its sincere, straightforward storytelling, deep exploration of complex familial and emotional dynamics, and its representation of contemporary Saudi life. 

Read More About Taher Al Zahrani

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