Like many of the women in her working-class Casablanca neighborhood, Jmiaa struggles to earn enough money to support herself and her family—often including the deadbeat husband who walked out on her and their young daughter.
The voice of North African novelist Meryem Alaoui is a welcome one ... a powerful character study ... follows a familiar rag-to-riches storyline, but Jmiaa’s unfaltering optimism will keep readers hooked. She is matter-of-fact about the day-to-day details of her profession, boasting of her ability to provide for her family and proudly defending the women who share the streets with her ... Alaoui is ably served by her translator, Emma Ramadan, who captures Jmiaa’s irreverent spirit and sass. A simple glossary at the end adds context to the shop names, local personalities and food that contribute to the richness of everyday details.
... lively ... This is a funny and profane book; joyful in its celebration of a life lived expansively and filled with the sights and sounds of Casablanca. It also introduces a confident female character comfortable with choices that may seem--to those more privileged--unsavory and unwise. Straight from the Horse's Mouth received critical acclaim when it was first published in France, and will be equally welcome in this ebullient English translation.
... mesmerizing ... Jmiaa’s Casablanca is full of corrupt cops and exploitative men who take advantage of the prostitutes’ vulnerability, but it is also full of friendship, laughter, and triumph ... Alaoui’s shimmering prose is funny and original ... Alaoui’s tale is one to savor for its language and its verve.