C'est beau, la guerre, by Youssouf Amine Elalamy
With his tenth novel, C'est beau, la guerre (2019), Youssouf Amine Elalamy explores the tragic conflicts that led to his exile. Through the mediation of his main character, the dead come back to life and transform stagecraft into a process of catharsis. The book was awarded the Orange Book Prize in Africa in 2020.
Writing and teaching
Born in Morocco in 1961 and holding a PhD in Communications, in 1991 Youssouf Amine Elalamy was awarded the prestigious Fulbright scholarship to conduct his research on the discourse of advertising. In parallel to this, in association with New York University, he took courses in advertising design and copywriting at the Fashion Institute of Technology and Parsons School of Design in New York. After three years in the Big Apple, he returned to Morocco where he published his first book, A Moroccan in New York, in 1998.
Writing first in French, then in Arabic and English, Elalamy won the British Council Prize for Moroccan Writers in English in 1999, followed by the Grand Atlas prize for his novel Les Clandestins in 2001.
The authors of several books (Paris mon bled, Même pas mort), he published C'est beau, la guerre in 2019 while continuing his career teaching Stylistics and Media Studies at Ibn Tofail University in Kenitra.
An actor in exile
In C'est beau, la guerre, Elalamy tells the story of a young actor who sets sail on a makeshift boat to flee his war-torn country. Quickly finding himself alone, he is sent to a refugee camp where he meets characters as diverse as they are varied. He soon realises that all the women he meets have lost someone close to them during the conflict.
With a hen his only companion in misfortune and his acting experience under his belt, he decides to use his art to repair the heart and soul of these migrants. As he visits these uprooted beings, the hero sets about bringing their dead back to life in an attempt to better support them through their mourning.
A polyphonic fiction
For his tenth novel, Youssouf Amine Elalamy revisits the themes of mourning and paying tribute to the dead, both of which are often present in his work. Having resurrected his dead father in his previous book, Même pas mort, in 2018, in this text he returns to the narrative of exile first explored in his second novel, Les Clandestins, in 2000.
C'est beau, la guerre and its chorus of protagonists are intended as a tribute to refugees. The author wanted to describe a different reality to the destructive images of conflict published online by embodying the consciousness of these men and women.
An internationally recognised author
Ever since start of his career, Elalamy’s texts have been translated into Arabic, English, Spanish, German, Greek and even Dutch, and have been used as the starting point for different artistic projects. Paris mon bled has been adapted into a musical, while Nomade, an unpublished novel, was performed with the title Un roman dans la ville, in the form of an urban literary installation.
The recipient of numerous prizes (the Grand Atlas Prize, the Joy of Reading Award), in June 2020 the author won the Orange Book Prize in Africa for C'est beau, la guerre. This prize aims to showcase African publishing by helping to promote and distribute the novel beyond its borders.
The Institut français supports the Prix Orange du Livre en Afrique.