Straight from the Horse's Mouth (Paperback)

A Novel

By Meryem Alaoui, Emma Ramadan (Translated by)

Other Press, 9781892746795, 272pp.

Publication Date: September 15, 2020

List Price: 16.99*
* Individual store prices may vary.

Description

This hilarious, colorful portrait of a prostitute navigating life in modern Morocco introduces a promising new literary voice.
 
Thirty-four-year-old prostitute Jmiaa reflects on the bustling world around her with a brutal honesty, but also a quick wit that cuts through the drudgery. Like many of the women in her working-class Casablanca neighborhood, Jmiaa struggles to earn enough money to support herself and her family—often including the deadbeat husband who walked out on her and their young daughter. While she doesn’t despair about her profession like her roommate, Halima, who reads the Quran between clients, she still has to maintain a delicate balance between her reality and the “respectable” one she paints for her own more conservative mother.

This daily grind is interrupted by the arrival of an aspiring young director, Chadlia, whom Jmiaa takes to calling “Horse Mouth.” Chadlia enlists Jmiaa’s help on a film project, initially just to make sure the plot and dialogue are authentic. But when she’s unable to find an actress who’s right for the starring role, she turns again to Jmiaa, giving the latter an incredible opportunity for a better life.

In this breakout debut novel, Meryem Alaoui creates a vibrant picture of the day-to-day challenges faced by working people in Morocco, which they meet head on with resourcefulness and resilience.


About the Author

Meryem Alaoui was born and raised in Morocco, where she managed an independent media group that combined publications in French (TelQuel) and Arabic (Nichane). Straight from the Horse’s Mouth, her debut novel, was first published in France, where it has achieved great critical acclaim. After several years in New York, Alaoui now lives in Morocco.
 
Emma Ramadan is a literary translator based in Providence, Rhode Island, where she co-owns Riffraff bookstore and bar. She is the recipient of an NEA Translation Fellowship, a PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant, a Fulbright, and the 2018 Albertine Prize. Her translations include Sphinx and Not One Day by Anne Garréta, Pretty Things by Virginie Despentes, The Shutters by Ahmed Bouanani, and Me & Other Writing by Marguerite Duras.


Praise For Straight from the Horse's Mouth: A Novel

“A powerful, original novel…one of the best I’ve read recently and one that will get people talking.” —Tahar Ben Jelloun, author of This Blinding Absence of Light
 
“The story of a lively young woman, who is funny and courageous, at the heart of a world we don’t often see explored in literature, where Meryem Alaoui deftly leads us.” —Le Point
 
“Following Leïla Slimani’s Paroles d’honneur, another young Moroccan woman, Meryem Alaoui, looks at a rarely seen side of the society that oppresses women in Morocco. Through the diary of a prostitute in Casablanca, the young author reveals the fragility and the harshness of life for those who are sacrificed, ostracized, left in the shadows.” —Lire