Novels by Moroccan authors Mahi Binebine and Abdellah Taia have been nominated for the French Renaudot Literature Prize.
Rabat – The novels, “Street of Forgiveness” (original: Rue du Pardon) by Mahi Binebine and “The Slow Life” (original: La Vie Lente) by Abdellah Taia have been nominated for the Renaudot Literature Prize.
The books are written in French and have not yet been translated into other languages.
The Renaudot Prize is a prestigious annual award for new, French literature. The prize for third-place will be announced on September 4, second-place will be announced on October 8, and the winner will be announced on November 4.
Street of Forgiveness
Mahi Binebine was born in Marrakech in 1959. He moved to Paris in 1980 to study mathematics then he devoted himself to painting, sculpting and writing. He returned to Marrakech in 2002 where he currently lives.
His 2010 novel, “Horses of God”, about the Casablanca bombings, was shortlisted for Best Translated Book Award in 2014. It was made into a feature film of the same name in Morocco in 2012, directed by Nabil Ayouch, and was the Official submission of Morocco to the 2014 Oscars for the category of ‘best foreign language’ film.
Binebine’s novel “King’s Fool” was nominated for the 2017 Renaudot Prize, but narrowly missed out on the award.
In Binebine’s new novel, “Street of Forgiveness”, Hayat, the main character, grows up in a poor neighbourhood of Marrakech. “Born blonde, she draws sneers from those around her, and shames her mother. […] Hayat escapes her neighbourhood thanks to Mamyta, the greatest oriental dancer in the country. Mamyta is a kind of geisha, singer, dancer, leader, and lover. She is a free women in a country where all is forbidden. […] Hayat learns how to make men go crazy […] and how to build a destiny,” the book’s publishing house states.
The Slow Life
Abdellah Taia was born in Rabat in 1973 and has been based in Paris since 1998. He has published a number of autobiographical novels. In 2006, Taïa became the first openly gay Arab writer. He is a strong advocate for gay rights and has been widely condemned in Morocco, where homosexuality is illegal under Article 489 of the Moroccan criminal code.
The Slow Life is set in France, after the 2015 terrorist attacks, reads the book summary. It follows Mounir, a gay Parisian of Moroccan origins, while renting a basement apartment from 80 year old, Madame Marty. The friendship between the two quickly deteriorates and Madame Marty calls the police to arrest Mounir. The police officer, Antoine suspects Mounir is connected to jihadists.
Ten additional novels and seven essays have been nominated for the prize.