In 1920s French-controlled Algeria, Kaci is in the frame for the brutal murder of his French boss. Kaci is faced with a stark choice: name his cousin as the killer and win his freedom, or keep quiet and face 25 years’ hard labour in the infamous Devil’s Island penal colony. Either way, one of them is destined for the world’s worst prison…a hell on earth that few men survive. The Guillotine Choice is a novel based on the true story of an Algerian man’s years in one of history’s most notorious prisons. A real-life Shawshank Redemption, it is an inspirational story of endurance and the triumph of dignity over despair in almost unimaginably horrific conditions.
Having read the authors, A Suitable Lie, which was one of my top reads for 2016, I was dying to read more of his books. I’ve always been drawn to non fiction novels so when I was recommended that I try The Guillotine Choice which is a true story, I couldn’t resist.
Through the author, Bashit Saoudi re tells his fathers story of the horrendous years he spent in ‘prison’ after being wrongly found guilty for a murder he didn’t commit. Family and loyalty is something we find out quite quickly is very important to Kaci. He would rather chance the guillotine than tell the truth about his cousin killing his boss. I have to admit I couldn’t understand why he would not own up and risk his family and work life for a cousin who thought nothing of killing another man so easily.
Kaci’s lifestyle is horrendous from this point on. The treatment of the prisoners and their surroundings are truly awful. The guards have no respect for them and add to the already horrible time they are having there. Every time things seem to pick up for Kaci something happens and life kicks him in the teeth again.
This is a really harrowing read. It’s sad to see that even years later there is still so much unrest between countries and it makes me wonder if we have really learned anything by events that happened in the past. Kaci is a strong and proud man and though I think he was wrong to not own up to his cousin being the murderer, I think we can learn something from him.
Goodreads rating 4/5 stars.
The Guillotine Choice is available to purchase from Amazon.