English translations

Perishable Poems (« Poèmes périssables »), poetry

Translation and foreword by Peter Thompson, french-english ; Diálogos Books (New Orleans, USA), 213 p., 2019

In Praise of Defeat, poetry

Poems Selected by the Author, french-english, foreword by Pierre Joris ; translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith, Archipelago Books (New York, USA), 824 p., 2016

International shortlist of the Griffin Poetry Prize (Toronto, Canada) 2017

Beyond the Barbed Wire, poetry

Translated by André Naffis-Sahely, Carcanet (UK), 2016

Little Things (“Les Petites Choses”),
extract of “Le soleil se meurt”, poetry

Translated by Alan Baker, Leafe Press (Nottingham, UK), 2013

“It writes
from right to left
from left to right
It’s called migratory language”

The Bottom of the Jar (“Le Fond de la jarre”) , novel

Translated by André Naffis-Sahely, Archipelago Books (New York, USA), 2013


“Laâbi’s narrative draws deeply on his own childhood in Fez during the late 1940s and especially the 1950s. The writer has a fine eye for the telltale details of daily life, for the personality traits of colorful characters, for the labyrinthine urban layout of the town. The Bottom of the Jar is one of the most evocative portraits of the town that has ever been written.”

John Taylor, Fuse Book Review, Apr. 2013

The Rule of Barbarism (“Le Règne de barbarie”), poetry

Translated by André Naffis-Sahely, Island Position (Brooklyn/Gorée/Maastricht), 2012


One of the most daring poetic visions of the second half of the twentieth century. The Rule of Barbarism is a devastating flight through consciousness, acquainting the reader with the trials of a society caught between a colonial past and the tragic realities of a brutal dictatorship. Analysing the presence of “barbarism” inherent in all of us, and yet deepening our capacity for compassion despite the allure of revenge, this stunning debut from a writer on the threshold of a groundbreaking career can be read as an epic of love, empathy, anger and despair – and is as resonant today as when composed nearly fifty years ago.

The Jackal’s Baptism (“Le Baptême chacaliste”), play

Translated by Gordon and Nancy Hadfield, Mayday Magazine (Ontario, Canada), 2010

Fragments of a forgotten genesis
(“Fragments d’une genèse oubliée”), poetry

Translated by Nancy and Gordon Hadfield, Leafe Press (Nottingham, UK), 2009


“Abdellatif Laâbi, without a doubt the major francophone voice in Morocco today, writes with a quiet, unassuming elegance that holds and hides the violence any act of creation proposes. This is doubly true in his retelling of this story of a Forgotten Creation — is it a fragmentary story or the full story of a fragmentary creation?”

  Pierre Joris

The World’s Embrace, selected poems

Translated by Anne George, Edris Makward, Victor Reinking and Pierre Joris, City Lights Books, San Francisco, 2003

The World's embrace

“He moves with ease from the elegiac to the whimsical, or from the intensely personal to the proverbial. Much of his longer works are poems of witness and remembrance and, in prophetic moments, reflect a vision of the whole teeming, suffering human continent in its quest for healing and harmony.”

Victor Reinking, Introduction

Rue du Retour (“Le Chemin des ordalies”), novel

Translated by Jacqueline Kaye, Readers International, London, 1989
New edition 2017

Rue du retour“The narrative structure of Rue du Retour is impressively intricate. The author renders the complexity of the political prisoner’s thoughts and emotions by skillfully blending childhood memoirs, love letters to his beloved, graphic descriptions of prison life (especially of torture), dreams, visions, even bits of political propaganda. More than a testimony and a plea, this intense prose poem often attains a hallucinatory fervor.”

John Taylor, San Francisco Chronicle, October 1989