/ 3 April 2007

Moroccan author ‘was a national treasure’

Driss Chraibi, a major figure in Moroccan literature who wrote of Islam, colonialism and the treatment of women in his homeland, has died, Morocco’s state news agency reported. He was 80.

Chraibi died on April 1 in south-west France, the MAP agency reported.

Chraibi was born in 1926 in El-Jadida, a town near Casablanca on Morocco’s Atlantic coast. He moved to Paris in 1945 to study chemistry, and remained in France until his death. He wrote in French, his adopted tongue.

Chraibi worked as a chemical engineer, night watchman and labourer before his literary career began in 1954 with the publication of his first novel, Passe Simple, an autobiographical work attacking Islam and the treatment of women in Morocco’s taboo-laden society. He went on to write 18 more novels, most dealing with issues of colonialism and Chraibi’s memories of Morocco.

”He was the first writer I read as a child who created Moroccan characters that were believable,” said Moroccan writer Laila Lalami, whose own Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits chronicles Moroccans’ attempts to make the dangerous sea crossing to Spain in search of work.

Chraibi ”was a national treasure and he will be sorely missed”, Lalami said.

Chraibi received numerous awards for his writing at home and abroad. — Sapa-AP