Moroccan Literature and A Blogging Break

Picture taken from

Picture of the Kashbah Aït Benhaddou taken from

This is just a quick post to let you know I’m taking a blogging break. I’m not sure for how long but I will certainly be back in time for the readalong at the end of the month.


Some of you know that one of the reasons for the break is that I’m travelling to Morocco. To Marrakech to be precise. The first time I’ve been to Morocco was in part because of so many European and American writers like Paul Bowles, Elias Canetti, Esther Freud, who loved Morocco and especially Marrakech. The way they described the city made me think I would love it. At first I was disappointed as it was so different from what I had imagined but then I went back and saw the “real” Marrakech and fell in love. I wonder how it will be this time. This trip will be special as I’m travelling with someone who has been there before, someone who has never been there and someone who was born there. It will be interesting to see the city through so many different eyes. From Marrakech we will travel to Essaouira which is on the coast and stay there for a couple of days.

I’m looking forward to this trip as the temperature here is still around 6°C/42,8°F, while in Morocco it should be around 27°C/80,6°F.


Another reason why I wen to Marrakech for the first time was Elizabeth Fernea. While studying at the university I took a course on travel memoirs written by cultural anthropologists. One of the titles that made a huge impression was A Street in Marrakech. I’d love to read it again. It’s a fascinating account and a well-written book that captures the magic of living in another culture and the sorrow to leave it again.

The other day I thought it was appalling that I haven’t read any Moroccan writers other than Tahar Ben Jelloun. There are so many, however not all of them have been translated. To put myself in the mood for the trip I compiled a small list.


Tahar Ben Jelloun – Leaving Tangier

Ben Jelloun is probably the most famous Moroccan writer. His books are short and lyrical. He has written a lot. Many of his books have been translated.

Laila Lalami

Laila Lalami Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

Lalami is  new to me. Her books received much praise. She lives in the US and writes in English but was born in Morocco.


Mohamed Choukri – For Bread Alone

Mohamed Choukri’s autobiographical novel is a classic. It has been translated by Paul Bowles. It’s an account of poverty and hardship, written in powerful prose.


Fatima Mernissi – Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood

I bought this years ago but have still not read it. Mernissi writes in English. I’ve read other memoirs by women who grew up in a harem. They are worth reading as we discover a world we would otherwise never see.


Driss Chraibi’s novel Mother Comes of Age is another classic which I’ve bought some time ago. It is said to be one of the most important Moroccan books.

I hope this post will tempt the one or the other to pick up a Moroccan writer in the future.

I know that some of you are curious to see what books people will read when travelling or on holidays. While I have a kindle I will not go anywhere without real books. These are the candidates I’m taking with me:


I’ve already started Asmara et les causes perdues. Jean-Christophe Rufin has won the Prix Goncourt for his novel Rouge Brésil or Brazil Red. Unfortunately Asmara hasn’t been translated.

burning bright - ron rash

Ron Rash has been on my radar for a while. Before reading his novel The Cove I wanted to explore his shorter fiction. Burning Brigth has received some prestigious prizes.


I just received Brian Kimberling’s first novel Snapper from Random House and since it sounds so good, I’m going to read this soon.

You certainly wonder why I’m not taking any of the Moroccan books. I’m weird that way, I keep those for when I’m back.

Take care everyone. I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.