The young Moroccan writer and architect, Alaa Halifi, has just won the “Al-Rafidain” First Book Awards 2021, for his book “Praise of Madness,” a fiction novel set in the city of Casablanca.
The Lebanese publishing house Dar Al-Rafidain organised the competition in collaboration with Iraq’s “Editions Daraj.”
The literary award honours authors of Arabic literature and promotes young writers from around the world. Alaa Halifi’s novel made history as the first Moroccan literary work to win the award.
The literary prize Al-Rafidain distinguishes each year, three contemporary authors of the Arabic language, with the aim of promoting young writers on the international literary scene.
In addition to the book by Alaa Halifi, 22, the jury made up of renowned critics and writers selected two other works for the final, namely “Bonjour, Yaffa” by Ahmed Fadeed (Egypt) and “Snaché de the hand of comfort ”, by Mubeen Al-Khashani (Iraq).
According to the jury, the power of the book lies in its strong ability to “dive deep into the worlds of Casablanca”. The different chapters of the book all have the same spatial framework in common, but they also revolve around the themes of the loneliness and alienation that the characters experience within “the monster city”.
The book “presents Casablanca and its citizens with a very refined style, and an extremely thought-out narrative mechanics, eager for innovation and opening up to the horizons of modernity and the experimentation of storytelling techniques”, declared the writer. Iraqi Falah Rahim, president of the jury for this edition, noting that there is an inspiration of magical realism, fantasy, exoticism, and irony without the narrator giving up his conscious control of his fictional art and to the magic of its captivating narrative language.
Among 200 literary works, Halifi’s novel was chosen and awarded.
In addition to offering monetary rewards, the award ceremony will promote the publication of winning works and their international distribution.