Q: There is a story that the day “Homosexuality Explained to My Mother” was first published in Morocco, you barricaded the door of your apartment and stayed awake all night, fearing you’d be attacked. Does the reception of your work in Morocco still make you fear for your life?
A: Well, I should first say my books are sold in Morocco. That alone is amazing; they are the type of books that would have been banned not long ago. And no, I was never attacked physically, but I have been attacked critically by other Moroccan writers, journalists, and politicians. The idea was that we Moroccans are good citizens and good Muslims. We aren’t permitted to talk about personal things, especially not out in the open. But for me writing is never about what’s considered ‘right,’ it’s about everything that’s wrong. It’s about addressing something unsaid, which is what homosexuality had always been. I can now see that my writing is part of a bigger movida that started in Morocco with King Hassan II’s death in 1999, similar to what happened in Spain after Franco died. The lower classes are now making their voices heard more and more because they know that political and societal change will not come from the rich.