Mahi Binebine

A multidisciplinary artist, he writes about the nuanced nature and diversity of contemporary Moroccan society.

© Sandrine Roudeix (Flammarion)

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Mahi Binebine is a painter, sculptor, novelist, and a very active figure in Moroccan civil society. His pictorial work has made him the most international plastic artist of present-day Morocco, and his literary work, written in French, has been translated into several languages, including Catalan. His novels, always focusing on the harsh conditions of life of the least privileged groups of the Moroccan population, notably include Polen (Akal Literaria, 2003), Yo, bufón del rey (Alfaguara, 2018; in English, The King’s Fool, MacLehose Press, 2020), Carrer del perdó (Angle Editorial, 2020), and Mon frère fantôme (Le Fennec, 2022).

His best-known novel, Les Étoiles de Sidi Moumen in Spanish, Los caballos de Dios, Alfaguara, 2016; and in English, Horses of God, Tin House Books, 2013) was made into a feature film, Les Chevaux de Dieu, directed by Nabil Ayouch and was also nominated for the “Un certain regard” award in Cannes 2012. The film is about the problem of Islamist indoctrination in the impoverished neighbourhoods of Casablanca, which led to the terrorist attacks of 16 May 2023. The novel and the film gave rise to the creation of the Centres culturels Les Étoiles which, free of charge and open to all young people living in Moroccan slum neighbourhoods, offer direct access to culture. Les Étoiles have been opened in Casablanca, Tangier, Fes, Marrakesh, and Agadir.