With an infectious blend of humor, satire, and biting social commentary, Yassin Adnan gives readers a portrait of contemporary Morocco - and the city of Marrakech - told through the eyes of the hapless Rahhal Laâouina, a.k.a. the Squirrel. Painfully shy, not that bright, and not all that popular, Rahhal somehow imagines himself a hero. With a useless degree in ancient Arabic poetry, he finds his calling in the online world, where he discovers email, YouTube, Facebook, and the news site Hot Maroc. Enamored of the internet and the thrill of anonymity it allows, Rahhal opens the Atlas Cubs Cyber Café, where patrons mingle virtually with politicians, journalists, hackers, and trolls. However, Rahhal soon finds himself mired in the dark side of the online world - one of corruption, scandal, and deception.
Longlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2017, Hot Maroc is a vital portrait of the challenges Moroccans, young and old, face today. Where press freedoms are tightly controlled by government authorities, where the police spy on, intimidate, and detain citizens with impunity, and where adherence to traditional cultural icons both anchors and stifles creative production, the online world provides an alternative for the young and voiceless. In this revolutionary novel that recalls Junot Díaz’s The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and Dave Eggers’s The Circle, Adnan fixes his lens on young Rahhal and his contemporaries as they navigate the perilous and changing landscape of the real and virtual worlds they inhabit.