More IMPAC News

The IMPAC prize seems to have caused a spike in sales for Tahar Ben Jelloun’s This Blinding Absence of Light, as noticed by The Literary Saloon. This morning the novel is at an impressive sales rank of 175 on Amazon. (Meanwhile, this is all the NY Times had to say…)

If you’re interested in Moroccan literature, I’d like to recommend a few things. Mohammed Choukri’s For Bread Alone is a must-read and one of my all-time favorites. (Lit tidbit: the book, originally written in Moroccan Arabic–not the highfallutin Classical dialect of the elite–was translated into English by Paul Bowles and into French by none other than Tahar Ben Jelloun.)

Driss Chraibi used to be one of my favorites when I was a teenager, but I haven’t read him in a long time. Le Passe simple is a classic, and La Civilisation, ma mare has a wonderfully tender portrait of a mother caught between traditional roles and the attractions of modernity.

I also like Leila Abouzeid, whose seminal Year of the Elephant affected me deeply because it featured a female character I recognized, one that seemed to be a part of my life, rather than the usual, submissive cliche. (She’s also written a fantastic memoir, Return to Childhood.)

And I’d also recommend anything by Edmond Amran ElMaleh, who chronicled the Moroccan Jewish experience in his memoirs, and whose books were passed around in my high school until the pages started falling off.

If you prefer to read fiction in English, you might want to check out Si Yussef, by Anouar Majid.