The Riddle of Edmond Amran El Maleh


Mohammed Said Hjiouij


Yehouda Shenhav-Shahrabani & Luay Watad

Publisher Van Leer Institute Press & Pardes Publishing
Language Hebrew
Year of Publication 2023
Series Maktoob

The Roman à clef  The Riddle of Edmond Amran El Maleh was inspired by the life of the Jewish-Moroccan writer Edmond Amran El Maleh (1917–2010). In his novel, the Moroccan writer Mohammed Said Hjiouij builds an alternative biography of El Maleh, in which he emigrates to Israel, but is disillusioned and moves to France, where he becomes embroiled in a literary scandal and a highly classified secret regarding the Mossad’s involvement in the sinking of the illegal immigrant ship, Egoz. The literary El Maleh invests most of his efforts in an attempt to write a novel.

But who is the narrator and who are the characters? What are the limits of the dialogue between Edmond Amran El Maleh, the Jewish-Moroccan writer who moved from Morocco to Israel and from there to France, and Issa El Abdi, the Communist journalist from the opposition, whose name is also the pseudonym of the writer Amran El Maleh, a member of a literary prize judging committee?

The novel provides a rare opportunity to understand the history of the Jews of Morocco from an Arab perspective. For this history Hjiouij had to write a new biography of El Maleh that passes through Israel, is narrated as a historical genre simulating the oral tradition, as opposed to the official history, as an act of rehabilitating memory.


Afterword: Orit Ouaknine-Yekutieli

Literary editing: Rotem Raz

Copy editing: Amira Binyamini-Nevo

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