Horses of God by Mahi Binebine

Last month I lamented that even though I’m the host of the Middle Eastern Reading Challenge, I’ve done a poor job of reading books about the Middle East. Well, I’m hoping to rectify that lament. The topic of today’s post is the short novel Horses of God by Moroccan writer Mahi Binebine. Published in 2013 by my hometown publisher Tin House Books, Horses of God tells the story of a group of impoverished youth from Casablanca’s wretched slum Sidi Moumen and how they were transformed from aimless young men into suicide bombers. Told in the first person’s perspective by one of the eventual bombers, the novel has a Lovely Bones sort of quality. As Sidi Moumen resident and bomber Yachine  narrates from his otherworldly home in the afterlife, Yachine recalls the poignant details of his life and that of his peers and what factors pushed them to become suicide bombers.

Horses of God is a short but powerful novel. I found it well-written and my guess is well-translated too. I thought the novel excelled at showing the crushing poverty and hopelessness of a third world shantytown. Without revealing too much, Horses of God also excelled when it came to showing how suicide bombers do not spring from a vacuum. While it might take a village to raise a child, Mahi Binebine (much like the creators of the film Syriana) proves it takes a world to produce a suicide bomber. I was pleasantly surprised by Horses of God and found it a worthy addition to the Middle East Reading Challenge.

9 thoughts on “Horses of God by Mahi Binebine

  1. Hey Maphead – I just finished this the other day (due to your recommendation). Has to be one of the BEST reads of this year so thanks a ton for that. I would never have found this if not for your mentioning it. I’m now trying to force all my friends to read it. (I’m putting a review of it on my blog tomorrow, I think.) Thanks!


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