A life of petty crime escalates into black-market dealings and murder in this debut memoir.
Maktari had a mother who abandoned him and a manipulative, uncaring father, so it’s perhaps unsurprising that he found himself underperforming in school, committing various crimes (including impersonating a Saudi prince), and living on the street for a period of time. This debut memoir isn’t written in strict chronological order, and the author covers up many details of his life to remain anonymous, so it’s difficult to piece together a clear timeline. But his criminal activity eventually led to a stint in prison and, once he got out, the more serious criminal underground. He didn’t ask his bosses many questions, as he was happy to have money, but he writes that in exchange for his obedience, he wound up having to kill people. He often alludes to the fact that his marriage suffered and eventually collapsed as a result of his lifestyle, but he gives few details, instead focusing on business. Specifically, he writes about the black-market gold trade, which ultimately led him to a surreal encounter in the Syrian desert with a mysterious royal and what Maktari describes as “tons” of gold. The memoir begins in a straightforward fashion, but by the end, it grows so splintered that it’s difficult to keep track of the story—which, in any case, may or may not be true. Although the author makes attempts at accepting accountability, it may be difficult for readers to feel sympathy for him. The memoir’s repeated use of derogatory language toward women doesn’t further its cause, nor do the last pages, which descend into ramblings about the world’s uncertain economic future.
An occasionally compelling memoir hampered by its incoherent structure.