Moon and Henna Tree by Ahmed Toufiq
Set in the High Atlas in pre-modern Morocco, Moon and Henna Tree chronicles the rise and fall of a local potentate, Hmmu. Not content with the territory left to him upon his father’s death, Hmmu, under the influence of his scheming advisor, Ibn al-Zara, begins a campaign to acquire those lands that adjoin his, either through marriage or physical force.
Ahmed Toufiq’s subtle investigation of the abuse of power and its effects on those who suffer under its tyranny also provides a unique look at Amazigh (Berber) culture. While most of Toufiq’s contemporaries focus on modern urban Morocco, he provides a fascinating, and accurate, account of the customs and traditions of a large, yet often ignored, segment of the population. Moon and Henna Tree (in the original Arabic) won the Moroccan Book Prize in 1989.