“Les Tribulations du dernier Sijilmassi” by Fouad Laroui

This article is also available in: Italiano

“Les Tribulations du dernier Sijilmassi” is truly a work of the highest level that will allow you to travel to Casablanca and, in general, to today’s Morocco. A text to have absolutely as it is complete from every point of view and able to involve even with its humor.

Les Tribulations du dernier Sijilmassi

Engineer Adam Sijilmassi is on his umpteenth trip in business class, returning from Asia. As he flies over the sea he realizes that it is necessary to slow down and change his life by him. Thus he begins a daring journey into identity and memory, in search of an authenticity that can represent a synthesis of his different ways of being. After a surreal encounter with an analyst who tries to trace his choices back to a form of nervous breakdown, Adam leaves for his native village. He discovers his grandfather’s library, literature and philosophy texts from the times of Arab Andalucia and makes reading his main activity. In Adam’s thought, phrases and verses from literary works continually appear and find their place in the interpretation of everyday life, gracefully settling next to the potpourri of Moroccan terms, proverbs, phrases.

The Moroccan 2.0

The novel by Fouad Laroui investigates the psyche of the average Moroccan of our day, staging truly acute and who, precisely for this reason, does not disdain an exquisitely comic streak, caused precisely by the different mentality of the protagonist with respect to what surrounds him. The work is in fact a real rediscovery of Moroccan values and traditions, touching an element deeply anchored to the Mediterranean: the unpredictability. In his growth to say the least prophetic (but we will talk about it in the last part), Adam will in fact notice the deep rift in the face of the unexpected, present in the greatest way between the countryside and the city.


If in the second, in fact, the change of attitude will be almost crazy, in the first this will not only seem normal, but, on the contrary, will lead to an all too widespread acceptance. It would be wrong, however, to consider the novel as a “Benvenuti al Sud” in the Maghrebi version, also because the considerations present in Laroui’s work touch much deeper chords and, above all, sought after by the protagonist himself.

The decolonization of Laroui

Personally I have a soft spot for all the texts that somehow “decolonize” minds and it is really impossible not to notice how this book goes in that direction, albeit with an unexpected twist. In fact, throughout the text we will observe how Adam struggles with himself precisely for this purpose, finding to support texts of incredible sagacity and acumen that will help him to strengthen his inner balance.


Through the works of philosophers of the caliber of Ibn Rushd (Averroè) and other great writers of the Islamic world, he will get closer and closer to his goal, but collide with the reality that surrounds him, still linked to ancestral rhythms and with unexpected consequences. Later the “spoiler” part begins, we still recommend reading it, however, because the book deserves beyond the plot.

A consideration

Adam’s unexpected behavior, combined with a particular tradition of his native country, will in fact lead the locals to consider him as a sort of “prophet” which, combined with the fear of the police and the birth of multiple factions, will trigger a sort of “war. of the village “. What, personally, I did not appreciate is Adam’s final choice, absolutely consistent with the protagonist but, for this very reason, a bit disappointing.


The latter, in fact, will try to represent a “new faction of equilibrium”, which, however, will have no qualms about abandoning in exchange for his inner serenity, even at the cost of being a hermit. I would have appreciated the work even more if Adam had tried to spread this privilege to the rest of the population, albeit in his own way.

A book to experience Morocco today

The book, however, is really a very high level work that will allow you to travel to Casablanca and, in general, to today’s Morocco. “The tribulations of the last Sijilmassi” was in fact one of the first books read after my trip to Morocco and I must say that it conveys all the sensations I experienced in that period, especially during the bus crossings.


Laroui’s skill is incredible, however, also for the continuous word games between Darija and French, as well as for the subtlety with which the whole book is constructed. A text to have absolutely as complete from every point of view and able to involve even with his humor.

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