Binebine is only the second Moroccan to win the award, after Tahar Ben Jelloun claimed the prize in 1994.
Rabat – Moroccan writer and painter Mahi Binebine has won the 2020 “Prix Mediterranee” literary award for his latest French novel “Rue du pardon” (Street of Forgiveness), the award’s organizers announced on Monday, June 8.
“Whenever I receive an award, I am less happy for my ego than for the work itself which will have greater visibility,” Binebine told Morocco World News following the announcement.
“In France, books disappear from bookstores after two months of their publication. The awards serve to give them a second life,” he continued.
Published in May 2019, “Rue du pardon” tells the story of Hayat, a young girl who grows up in the Medina of Marrakech. Abused by her father, rejected by her mother, and accused of bastardism by her neighbors for her blond hair, Hayat takes refuge in her relationships with her grandfather and in Mamyta, the most well-known oriental dancer in the country.
“Mamyta represents a symbol of freedom in a country founded on the forbidden,” reads the novel’s synopsis.
Being a target of both slurs and admiration, the geisha-like figure takes Hayat under her wing and teaches her how to become an artist in a society where art is taboo.
Before winning the award, Binebine appeared on the shortlist of the 35th “Prix Mediterranee” alongside French novelist Sylvain Coher, for his novel “Vaincre a Rome” (To Defeat in Rome), and Lebanese writer Yasmine Khlat, for her book “Egypte 51” (Egypt 51).
The Moroccan writer is set to receive the award on October 3 during a ceremony in Perpignan, southern France.
With this new decoration, Binebine becomes only the second Moroccan writer to win the “Prix Mediterranee,” after Tahar Ben Jelloun received the prize in 1994 for his novel “L’Homme rompu” (Corruption).
Created in 1982, the “Prix Mediterranee” annually awards a book written in French and narrating stories from around the Mediterranean.