Literature: the first jolting novel on prostitution in Morocco

Roman Meryem Alaoui

More than a year after the publication of Sexes et mensonges, la vie sexuelle au Maroc by Leïla Slimani, another Moroccan woman tackles, this time in novel form, the questions of sexuality in the country. In her novel, La vérité sort de la bouche du cheval, Meryem Alaoui slips into the skin of Jmiaa, a  prostitute in Casablanca confronted with misery but with a very strong character. Why it’s important to read this brilliant book:

To live out a slew of emotions

Fasten your seatbelts, this novel offers a perfect color chart of human emotions. Prepare yourself to laugh, cry, admire, hate and even more. Like in an intimate diary, Jmiaa, 34-years-old, recalls first hand her daily life as a prostitute in the streets of Casablanca, between turning tricks, hangovers, night time outings, laughing with the gals and the sacrifices.

It’s with a raw overtone and incredible humour that this woman, more clever than the others, honestly describes her life, her wedding when she was much too young,the terrible reality of a very poor Morocco, the deviations of religion, corruption but also the solidarity between women, love and joy.

To encounter a badass prostitute

Because prostitution is not synonymous with absolute submission, Meryem Alaoui paints a downright badass and funny character who never lets anyone walk all over her. Not the type to complain, Jmiaa moves along in life with the downside and small joys. Because despite the clients and a pimp often violent, this tough gal allows herself to be in love with the fat Bouchaïb, free to speak as she wishes, to insult disrespectful clients, free to challenge right thinking:

I don’t like reading. You pick up a book, you break your ass figuring it out, you must imagine, you don’t hear the voices of the characters, you don’t know if they  are handsome or not. Actually, I have never read one, but I know it’s a hassle.

For the pleasurable story

It’s quite hard to describe the key event in the life of Jmiaa without revealing too much. What we can say, is that the young woman accepts her choices and her destiny, despite the difficulty of daily life, until she has an opportunity offered by a young occidental film director that changes her life radically for ever... It’s the pleasurable story of a revenge on life of a young  feisty woman that is sure to bring a smile on your face for quite some time...

La vérité sort de la bouche du cheval, Meryem Alaoui, Gallimard


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