Loubna Serraj, a radio editor and first-time Moroccan Writer has won the third Orange Book Award Africa for a novel themed around wives confronting domestic violence.
Her “Pourvu qu’il soit de bonne humeur received her first prize at a ceremony Wednesday in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia. Judges described her work as a “tour de force”.
Published in Morocco by La Croisée des chemins, Pourvu qu’il soit de bonne humeur, which translates as “Let’s hope he’s in a good mood” explored two women’s quest for freedom. Although separated yet connected by everything.
Serraj’s passion for reading and writing actuated her into prominence. Apart from running a radio show, she also blogs from consciously unique perspective, revealing her literary, social or political ‘musings’ on current matters.
Chaired by Ivory Coast author Véronique Tadjo, the panel comprised writers, literary critics, journalists and notable personalities from the literary world: Yvan Amar (journalist from RFI, France), Kidi Bebey (journalist, editor and author, France), Gabriel Mwènè Okoundji (psychologist and poet, Congo) Yahia Belaskri (writer and journalist, Algeria), Nicolas Michel (journalist Jeune Afrique, France), Eugène Ebodé (writer, Cameroon), Youssouf Elalamy (author, 2020 winner, Morocco), Valérie Marin La Meslée (journalist Le Point, France), and Mariama Ndoye (author, Senegal).
After scrutinising 74 books from 16 countries, the judges said they were deeply affected by “Pourvu qu’il soit de bonne humeur”.
In their judgement of Serraj’s novel they observed: “With assurance and sensitivity, the author takes up a subject that alas, is still topical: domestic violence. The topic is addressed here with no hint of Manichaeism.
“The narration is led to its conclusion and is deployed successfully through several themes, of which we identify: the handing down of trauma through generations, resistance in all its forms, multi-dimensional love, dignity in the face of suffering, abnegation as well as a desire for freedom. This work invites us to travel into the past through two characters, two periods and two couples, to get a better understanding of the present”.
The judges further stated: “Loubna Serraj calls out to her society and consequently all the countries where women still suffer physically. Readers hear the author truly speak out. This first novel is a successful tour de force.”
The five other finalists were:
Ahmed Gasmia, Les peuples du ciel, (‘The sky peoples’) published by Frantz Fanon, Algeria
Ibrahima Hane, L’écume du temps, (‘The froth of time’) published by L’Harmattan, Senegal
Monique Ilboudo, Carrefour des Veuves, (The widows’ crossroads’) published by Les lettres Mouchetées, Congo
Davina Ittoo, Misère, (‘Misery’) published by L’Atelier des nomades, Mauritius
Sami Mokkadem, Le secret des Barcides, (‘The Barcid secret’) published by Pop Libris, Tunisia.