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Réda Dalil: Le Job [The Job]

Ghali Habchi has worked for some time for a large Moroccan-based international bank. However, because of the sub-prime crisis in the USA, the bank is having to retrench and Ghali is one of the thirty thousand victims who is to be made redundant. Initially, he is not too worried. He has a generous pay-off, which will allow him to live comfortably for a year and he has no dependents – he is not married, has no children and his parents are divorced, with his mother dying two years after the divorce. However, despite applying for many jobs – sometimes twenty a day – he is getting little response. Almost as bad, as far as he is concerned, is the fact that people do not think his plight is as bad as that of his friend, Ali, who has a wife and child to support.

Despite his many applications, he manages, initially, to only get three interviews. The first interview turns out merely to be for a receptionist’s job. The second looks very promising. It is a job with an expensive-looking consultancy firm. Mme Ghozlani, who interviews him, is very encouraging. She is very concerned that her staff are too young and, in particular, do not speak English. Ghali speaks some English (and is prepared to study hard if he gets the job, though he does not tell Mme Ghozlani this). He is sure that he is going to get the job. When he hears nothing, he decides to stalk Mme Ghozlani, by waiting in a café near the firm. The problem is, by that time, he is almost broke and the coffee at the café is very expensive. How long can he make a a cup of coffee drag out? He is there early and he waits. Young employees in expensive suits, often brought to work in chauffeured cars, arrive but no Mme. Ghozlani. Finally, she arrives. He dashes over the road, dodging the cars . But he is not careful enough and he wakes up in hospital, with a broken arm. The next interview he has also goes badly.

Meanwhile, Ali seems to be in a worse state than Ghali. He is always complaining, always broke and always”borrowing” money off Ghali. He is tired of Sofia, his wife, who criticises him for not getting a job but then, when he gets an interview, she tells him that he has not got a hope of getting the job. Ghali tries to help him but it is difficult. Finally, Ali says that he can no longer afford the rent on their flat and Ghali, in a wild moment, casually suggests that they come and live with him. That evening the three turn up with their suitcases and move in. Ghali finds that all his stuff is moved out of the bathroom by Sofia. She does little in the flat – occasionally cooking and occasionally making an effort to tidy up. He calls her (to himself) Sofia Godzilla. However, as Ali seems to get more and more depressed, Sofia and Ghali get closer and closer. Meanwhile, Mr. Kadiri,the man who knocked him down in his car, has made an offer to help him, but it seems very dubious. His grandmother, who had effectively brought him up after his mother died, has had a stroke and the hospital wants paying.

It is quite a fun book, as we watch Ghali slowly sink down from a successful banker, with all of the expensive trappings that implies, to sleeping in the street, struggling with is money, his love life, his job prospects and his beloved grandmother. Dali, who himself was a financier, even gives us a glimpse of the crash of 2017, an apparently far more serious crash than the last one. However, while it is a good read and obviously very topical, I cannot believe that there are no better novels being published in Morocco.

Publishing history

First in French by Editions Le Fennec 2014
No English translation