Migration of Moroccan writers from Casablanca to the North
The publishing movement is retreating in its main stronghold
Thursday – 15 Dhu al-Hijjah 1443 AH – 14 July 2022 AD Issue No. [
Part of the International Book and Publishing Fair in Rabat 2022
It can be said that one of the issues that were not addressed in the activities of the International Book Fair in Rabat in its last session, is the issue of publishing in Morocco, and this can be seen in the decline of the exhibits of Moroccan houses to a large extent. These manifestations of decline have mainly appeared since (2019), especially with regard to the houses that already exist in the economic capital, Casablanca, such as the “House of Culture”, “The New Company”, “The Arab Cultural Center” (Casablanca – Beirut) and “Dar Toubkal”.
The House of Culture is one of the oldest Moroccan houses. It was established at the end of the forties, and was supervised by Sharif Al-Qadri Al-Hassani and Abdel Hafeez Al-Kitani. And took over the task of publishing major writers, thinkers and writers. It has published the book “Asabiyya and the State” by Muhammad Abed Al-Jabri, the book “The Historical Discourse” by Ali Omlil and “Similarity of Old Poetry” by Muhammad Muftah, just as it has published the linguistic and grammatical books of Tammam Hassan (Egypt) and the literary books of Muhammad Al-Bahhabiti (Egypt), which are still academically accredited books to today. Perhaps what can be added is the creation of a literary series called the “Critical Studies Series”, which was published by critics and writers Saeed Yaqtin, Muhammad Al-Omari, Abdul Karim Bershid and the writer of these lines.
However, the factors that confronted the house and prevented it from continuing with the same publishing pace, in addition to competing with new roles, the lack of a solid publishing plan, and the absence of a committee for reading and editing; This made the house focus on two aspects: commercial, represented in importing the book from Egypt, Beirut and Tunisia, and on relying on printing and publishing the school book through which the house achieved significant financial resources.
The establishment of the Arab Cultural Center by Nizar Fadel, who came from Lebanon, first as a library in 1958 and then as a publishing house at a later stage (1978), prompted the connection of bridges between the Maghreb and the Levant. The Moroccan reader was able at an early stage to get acquainted with the fruits of the printing presses, especially those coming from Lebanon, to which houses with a strong presence contributed, such as “Dar Al-Adab”, “The Arab Institute for Studies and Publishing”, “Arab Research Institute”, “Dar Al-Hadathah” and “Al-Farabi”. . The Lebanese book was commercially marketed within one to two months after its appearance in Lebanon.
This intellectual and literary renaissance was reinforced by the shift to introducing Moroccan thought and literature. It is the objectively distinguished role of the Arab Cultural Center Foundation. In this aspect, the house was known to publish books by writers and thinkers such as Abdullah Al-Aroui, Muhammad Abed Al-Jabri, Taha Abdel-Rahman, Saeed Bin Said Al-Alawi, Abdel-Salam Ba-Abd Al-Aali, Abdel-Fattah Kilito, Said Yaqtin and Said Benkrad. The idea of publishing came jointly with “Dar Al-Tanweer” in its infancy, then the “Arab Foundation for Studies and Publishing”, to be transferred to the center later in the publishing process.
However, the severing of commercial relations with many Lebanese houses for various reasons, made the house devolve into disintegration and division, as the head of the Beirut branch, Hassan Yaghi, left it and established his own experience through “Dar Al-Tanweer”, which remained present with its branches in three Arab capitals: Egypt, Tunis and Beirut. As for the director general of the center in Morocco, Bassam Kurdi, he founded the “Cultural Center for Books” in Casablanca.
As for Dar Toubkal, it was founded in the mid-1980s by the poet Mohamed Bennis Abdel-Jalil Nazem and Mohamed Al-Douri, with the support of writers, writers and academics. Its publications were distributed among historical, philosophical, literary and social books. Its publications included Moroccan and Arab writers. Among the Moroccan writers who have been published are: Muhammad Al-Manouni, Abdelkader Fassi Al-Fihri, Mohamed Sabila, Mohamed Miftah, Abdel Salam Benabdelali, Salem Yafut, Abdel Fattah Kilito, Ahmed Bozfor, Abdel Karim Ghallab, Rabia Rayhan and others. As for Arabic, it was published by Adonis, Mahmoud Darwish, Halim Barakat, Hisham Sharabi, Sargon Boulos, Salim Barakat, Youmna Al-Eid, and others. The house also opened to a book from the Maghreb (Tunisia in particular), and it was published by Shukri Al-Mabkhout, Al-Habib Al-Salmi and Hassouna Al-Misbahi. Among what was stated in a preamble to the house, which was drafted two years ago and published on the house’s website, “Dar Toubkal Publishing has reached its thirty-fifth year with 2020, its thirty-fifth year. At the beginning of 1985 was the first step to establish the house. The first list of her books was issued on November 5 of the same year.
The project started with a clear vision. We want to give Morocco a publishing house that responds to cultural modernization.”
At one of the sessions of the International Book Fair in Casablanca, the house celebrated the release of its 100th book, so one of the Lebanese publishers commented by saying: We, the Lebanese, issue a hundred titles in a month or two.
It is noticeable that the house recently relied on the support of the Ministry of Culture, where it published the complete works of Abdel Fattah Kilito and Abdel Salam Ben Abdelali, and they are today for sale; It is expected – according to the trader – that the purchase process will be carried out by “Dar Al-Rafidain” (Iraq), “The Cultural Center for the Book” or “Dar Al-Aman” (Rabat).
If, as previously, the decline has marked the dynamism of publishing in the economic capital of Casablanca, what gives cause for optimism is the emergence of new Moroccan publishing houses in northern Morocco, especially in the cities of Tangiers and Tetouan. In Tangier, three small houses managed in a short period of time to impose their presence by accumulating different publications in literature, history and philosophy, in both Arabic and French, namely Dar Siliki Brothers, Dar Fasla, and Dar Acura. As for Tetouan, we find the “House of Wisdom” institution, which is a house that has established its presence in the field of publishing and distribution, which qualified it to participate in Arab exhibition sessions.
Some observers believe that the North will play a prominent role in the future, in terms of publishing, of course, and deliberating. The story is no longer summed up in the fact that whoever wants to publish a book has to move from Tangiers or Tetouan to Casablanca, as happened, for example, with Mohamed Choukri when he printed “The Barefoot Bread.” Rather, the Casablanca clerk had to go to Tangiers to publish his book!
* Moroccan writer