Best Author (2007)

Malika Oufkir

Malika Oufkir's life has been a twisted mix of fairy tale and nightmare, brought to life in her haunting memoir, Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail. First published in 1999 in French as La Prisoni?re, the book (which later became an Oprah's Book Club selection and New York Times nonfiction best seller) traces the brutal twenty-year imprisonment she and her family endured. The eldest daughter of Morocco's feared General Muhammad Oufkir, the North African-born beauty was unofficially adopted at age five by King Muhammad V, and then by his successor, King Hassan II, after the former died. For eleven years she was a princess's confidant who lived in the unfathomable luxury of the royal palace. In 1972 the towering General Oufkir led a failed coup against the regime and tried to assassinate Hassan. Oufkir was executed and the king ordered the general's wife, Fatima, and six children imprisoned in several secret locations. Malika and her family spent the next fifteen years incarcerated, surviving largely on vermin-infested soup. One torturous night in 1986, after an eight-year stint in solitary confinement, and having barely eaten for 47 days, family members tried to kill themselves by cutting open each other's veins with fragments of knitting needles. But their collective suicide attempt failed. Desperate, they began to dig with their bare hands. In 1987 the family completed a tunnel and staged an escape, only to be recaptured five days later and placed under house arrest. Malika eventually was released and fled her native Morocco almost ten years later. This past fall she published her second book, Freedom: The Story of My Second Life, written largely from her home in Surfside, where she resides with husband Eric Bordreuil.


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