Moroccan author Fouad Laroui has won the 2013 Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle*, one of France’s top literary prizes, for his story L’étrange affaire du pantalon de Dassoukine:
The Prix Goncourt de la Nouvelle, one of the Goncourt prizes, has been awarded since 1974 for the short story. According to Jeune Afrique, the tale follows a young Moroccan official (and his pants) who travels to Belgium to buy wheat for his country.
Laroui’s previous novel, Une année chez les Français (2010), also was longlisted for the Goncourt, but this is Laroui’s first win.
Laroui was born in Oudja, Morocco in 1960, has studied economics in the UK and settled in Amsterdam. He publishes creative work both in French and in Dutch.
Although Laroui is celebrated for his humor and insights, according to Moroccan novelist Laila Lalami, you shouldn’t bother looking for him in English. “As incredible as it sounds, Laroui has never been translated into English. (Don’t look at me. I tried to get several editors interested in him, even offering to translate him, but no one has shown any interest.)”
You can listen to one of Laroui’s short stories, “The Little Imposter,” translated for Radio Books by Michael O’Loughlin. A few of Laroui’s Dutch poems have appeared in Banipal, and translator Lydia Beyoud writes compellingly about why she enjoyed Fouad Laroui’s My Father’s Antenna.
Laroui has apparently said of why he writes: “”J’écris pour dénoncer des situations qui me choquent. Pour dénicher la bêtise sous toutes ses formes. La méchanceté, la cruauté, le fanatisme, la sottise me révulsent.”
Presumably this would be the moment for some English-language publisher to take Laila up on her offer.
*Previously (erroneously) reported as “Prix Goncourt.”