Horses of God: A Novel

Category: Book
By (author): Binebine, Mahi
Subject:  FICTION / In Translation / French
  FICTION / Literary
Publisher: WW Norton
Published: March 2013
Format: Book-paperback
Pages: 168
Size: 7.54in x 5.14in x 0.50in
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*On May 16, 2003, fourteen suicide bombers launched a series of attacks throughout Casablanca. It was the deadliest attack in Morocco's history. The bombers came from the shantytowns of Sidi Moumen, a poor suburb on the edge of a dump whose impoverished residents rarely if ever set foot in the cosmopolitan city at their doorstep. Mahi Binebine's novel Horses of God follows four childhood friends growing up in Sidi Moumen as they make the life-changing decisions that will lead them to become Islamist martyrs. The seeds of fundamentalist martyrdom are sown in the dirt-poor lives of Yachine, Nabil, Fuad, and Ali, all raised in Sidi Moumen. The boys' soccer team, The Stars of Sidi Moumen, is their main escape from the poverty, violence, and absence of hope that pervade their lives. When Yachine's older brother Hamid falls under the spell of fundamentalist leader Abu Zoubeir, the attraction of a religion that offers discipline, purpose, and guidance to young men who have none of these things becomes too seductive to ignore. Narrated by Yachine from the afterlife, Horses of God portrays the sweet innocence of childhood and friendship as well as the challenges facing those with few opportunities for a better life. Binebine navigates the controversial situation with compassion, creating empathy for the boys, who believe they have no choice but to follow the path offered them.
Review Quote**Long listed for the 2015 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award!

*Horses of God named by World Literature Today among the most important translations of 2013!

*Winner of the 2010 Prix du Roman Arabe and Prix Littéraire Mamounia

"The novel provides context and perspective to often little-explored issues, offering incredible insight into the complex lives of poor boys who are groomed to kill themselves for a cause and commit violent acts in the name of religion. Binebine portrays these young men as supremely human, victims of powers much larger than themselves, and like any Kafkaesque anti-hero, cogs in an incomprehensible and monstrous machine."
-Starred Publishers Weekly

"Moroccan painter, novelist, and former math teacher Binebine (Welcome to Paradise) writes with humor and pathos amid the novel's grinding tragedy but never allows the narrative to veer into self-pity or cheap sentimentality. The book is based on the 2004 suicide bombings in Casablanca, and Binebine's unblinking eye for detail makes this a haunting tale."
-Library Journal

"This is a heart-stopping, heart-breaking narrative-the story of a group of young men trying to make lives for themselves in one of Casablanca's poorest slums. It captures the intersection of politics, poverty, religion, and youth. It is a story as beautiful as it is disturbing, as sober-minded as it is astonishingly wild and expansive."
-Pauls Toutonghi, author of Evil Knievel Days

"Like Paulo Lins's sweeping Brazilian saga City of God, Binebine's Horses of God is the story of a violent, maze-like city-within-a-city-Casablanca's Sidi Moumen shantytown-its anonymous dreams and scavenger dumps, campfires and soccer matches and 'hashish-scented sky.' But, above all, it's about Sidi Moumen's soul and the 'living dead' yearning to escape, to be reborn, to grow wings and soar above its crumbling walls. Binebine writes living, breathing history, vividly capturing our incendiary daily world from the inside out."
-Anderson Tepper, editor, Vanity Fair


Praise for Welcome to Paradise

"...determinedly humanistic and profoundly touching..." -Shelf Awareness starred review

"...A strong, unsparing novel..."-Booklist

"A masterful account of North Africans trying to sneak across the Straits of Gibraltar into Spain . . . A fine debut: richly atmospheric and evocative, at once a sharply narrated tale of suspense and a carefully constructed memoir of inner grief."
-Kirkus Reviews

"From often bleak material, Mahi Binebine has writeen a moving novel that is full of life and light, aided by a fine translation from the French by Lulu Norman."
-The Independent

"Binebine describes their plight in crisp elegant prose, which manages to convey compassion but avoids sentimentality."
-Camden Journal

"Mahi Binebine is the first Moroccan writer to give these lives an identity."
-El Pais

"Sober and unsentimental, Welcome to Paradise is a highly moving homage to the new wretched of the earth."
-Le Monde

"Binebine writes with humanity...His is a rare voice, genuine, subtle and wry, even as it tells of private miseries and public suffering."
-Observer

"At once sympathetic to a people's plight and angry with its self-delusions, this is a brave book to have written and a rich, unsettling one to read."
-Literary Review

"I was profoundly moved by a beautiful, necessary Moroccan short novel, Welcome to Paradise ...exquisitely written and a perfect antidote to quasi-racist hysteria over asylum seekers."
-Catherine Lockerbie,Scotsman

"Why are illegal African emigrants so desperate to gatecrash Western Europe? The answers are explored in Mahi Binebine's terse, bleak compassionate Welcome to Paradise which is both topical and rare in tracing the phenomena to its roots: to the poverty and cruelty the emigrants are escaping."
-Financial Times

"The suspense is compelling, and the novel's lyricism assails a dehumanising anonymity. There is a Sisyphean epic unfolding in the endless effort to reach paradise and the repetitive cycle of failure and defeat."
-Guardian
Biographical NoteMahi Binebine was born in Marrakech in 1959. He studied in Paris and taught mathematics, until he became recognized first as a painter, then as a novelist. Binebine lived in New York in the late 1990s, when his paintings began to be acquired by the Guggenheim Museum.