Translated by Lulu Norman
Published by Granta
On the outskirts of Casablanca is the shantytown of Sidi Moumen, where Yachine and his ten brothers grew up in the aimless chaos of drugs, violence, unemployment, and despair. As children, the barefoot boys started their own football team – the Stars of Sidi Moumen – and dreamed of becoming the best football players of all time. But now their dreams have changed.
Yachine’s older brother Hamid starts growing a beard and attending religious meetings with Sheikh Abu Zoubeir. And, week after week, the sheikh begins to beguile the Stars of Sidi Moumen into believing that there is a better world in the afterlife, where their faith in Allah will be rewarded. They need only to choose between dying gloriously and together, or living disgracefully and alone. For Yachine and his brother, the choice soon becomes clear. Published on the tenth anniversary of the Casablanca bombings, Mahi Binebine’s prize-winning novel is a powerful re-imagining of the life and death of a young Moroccan suicide bomber.
Mahi Binebine is was born in Marrakesh in 1959. He studied in Paris and taught mathematics until he became recognised, first as a painter, then as a novelist. Between 1994-1999 he lived in New York, when his paintings began to be acquired by the Guggenheim Museum. He now lives in Marrakesh with his family.
Lulu Norman is a writer, translator and editor who lives in London. She has translated Albert Cossery, Mahmoud Darwish, Tahar Ben Jelloun and the songs of Serge Gainsbourg and written for national newspapers, the London Review of Books and other literary journals. Her translation of Mahi Binebine’s Welcome to Paradise (Granta, 2003) was shortlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize, and she has been awarded a 2013 English PEN Award for outstanding writing in translation for this translation of Horses of God.