File 42

Abdelmajid Sebbata

File 42 follows two parallel storylines. In the first, Christine Macmillan, a successful American novelist, and Rasheed Benaser, a young Moroccan researcher and doctoral student, embark on an investigation to find the unknown author of a forgotten Moroccan novel from 1989, in which Christine’s father, Steve, appears as one of the characters. Steve worked as a soldier at an American military base in Morocco during and after the Second World War. Their search leads them to a 1959 event - the tragedy of the poisoned cooking oil, one of the worst disasters to occur in the years after Moroccan independence. The second plot line is narrated by Zuheir Belqasem, a rich and delinquent Moroccan teenager who rapes Al-Ghalia, an underaged maid. His mother uses her influence as a prominent lawyer to close the case and send him to Russia to pursue his university studies. However, horrors await him there which no-one had foreseen. Written in the style of a “crime thriller” full of suspense, File 42 explores themes of reading and writing, as well as the issue of human worth and the Moroccan’ search for dignity, as a fundamental human right. 


Al-Markez al-Thaqafi al-Arabi


2021 Shortlist