Earlier this month, the Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique announced their second-ever winner. The prize went to Moroccan writer Youssouf Amine Elalamy for his novel C’est beau, la guerre:
The Prix Orange du Livre was launched in November 2018, an annual prize for a fictional work written in French by an African writer, brought out by a publishing house based on the African continent. The winner receives a cash prize of 10,000 euros as well a campaign to promote their book.
Two works of Elalamy’s have appeared in English translation: A Moroccan in New York and Sea Drinkers, published in a single volume translated by John Liechty, and he publishes both in French and in Moroccan Darija. He is currently a professor in the English Department at Ibn-Tofail University in Kenitra.
According to James Murua’s Literary Blog, finalists for the 2020 edition were announced on March 5 by a multinational jury chaired by Véronique Tadjo.
In a prepared statement, the judges said:
“[T]he narrator of the story takes us into the heart of a cruel war, where terror reigns and hope no longer exists. . . . . The end of the novel, on which the jury discussed a lot, questions the place of art and creators in the face of the deepest dramas experienced, and provoked, by humanity. This book speaks to the heart and to reason.”
The six-book shortlist included books from five different countries:
- Abdellah Baida, Testament d’un livre, Editions Marsam (Morocco)
- Ndèye Fatou Fall Dieng, Ces moments-Là , L’Harmattan Senegal (Senegal)
- Youssouf Amine Elalamy, C’est beau, la guerre, Editions Le Fennec (Morocco)
- Mostefa Harkat, Le retour au Moyen Age, Editions AFAQ (Algeria)
- Ahmed Mahfoudh, Les jalousies de la rue Andalouse, Arabesques éditions (Tunisia)
- Paul-Marie Traore, Jeu de dames, Editions Tombouctou (Mali)
Elalamy has received a number of previous literary prizes, including best travel account from the British Council International for his book Un Morocain à New York in 1999, the Grand Prix Atlas in 2001 for his novel Les Clandestins, and also the “Le Plaisir de lire” Prize 2010.
Youssouf Amine Elalamy, using literature to recover the missing human dimension
The Aesthetics of the City: A Conversation with Youssouf Amine Elalamy