Moroccan writer wins top prize with first book

Serraj’s “Pourvu qu’il soit de bonne humeur, (“Let’s hope he’s in a good mood”) explores the quest for freedom of two women separated yet connected by everything.
Saturday 03/07/2021
Loubna Serraj, winner of the 3rd Orange Book Prize in Africa. (linkedin)
Loubna Serraj, winner of the 3rd Orange Book Prize in Africa. (linkedin)

TUNIS - A first-time Moroccan novelist’s writing about wives confronting domestic violence has triumphed in the third Orange Book Award Africa, being hailed by the judges as a “tour de force”.

The Orange awards this year drew 74 books from 16 countries.

Loubna Serraj, a radio editor and commentator, collected her first prize at a ceremony Wednesday in Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia.

Her “Pourvu qu’il soit de bonne humeur, (“Let’s hope he’s in a good mood”) exploring the quest for freedom of two women separated yet connected by everything, is published in Morocco by La Croisée des chemins.

Serraj has made a profession out of her passion for reading and writing. Beside her radio work she also has a blog in which, with a deliberately quirky perspective, she reveals her literary, social or political ‘musings’ on current topics.

The Orange award judges, including the Ivory Coast author Véronique Tadjo, said they were deeply affected by “Pourvu qu’il soit de bonne humeur”.

The novel evokes domestic violence. (ondationorange.|)
The novel evokes domestic violence. (fondationorange.|)

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 continued: “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.”