ISH AIT HAMOU

A masterful storyteller

‘Giving people a voice, that’s what I do with my characters’

Ish Ait Hamou is the son of a Maroccan immigrant who arrived with his wife in Vilvoorde, a small city near Brussels. He’s the youngest of four children. He was a choreographer and judge on the Belgian version of ‘So you think you can dance’ but he sees himself primarily as a storyteller. His first interest was dancing. Years later, he wrote his first novel Hard heart (2014), which is a love story. So far, 30.000 copies were sold.

Hard heart has an ingenious plot, an easy yet not everyday style of writing, and psychological interesting characters that never get boring of predictable.

Standaard der LetterenFlemish quality newspaper
ISH AIT HAMOU

© Shed Mojahid

Three more bestsellers follow. Cécile (2015), about a young Morrocan boy whose curiosity changes his whole life and that of others, went into his fourth edition within its first month of publication (May 2015). The 14th edition was printed in May 2019, 42.000 copies were sold so far.

His shot story If you lose someone you cannot afford to lose (2016), immediately entered the Top 10. At the moment, 27.000 copies are sold.
In October 2019, Ish presented his latest novel The beauty that we share. Four months later, 35.000 copies are sold. The novel is currently for the 20th week on the 1st place of the top 10 in Flanders.

Today Ish is an indispensable part of the literary scene, an established figure on social media and television and an important voice in public debate.

TELL STORIES

Giving people a voice, that is what Ish does with his characters. For Cécile, he travelled to the South of Marocco, back to his roots and the homeland of his father. There he observed nature, the villagers and their culture in order to create his authentic main character Djibril.

In If you lose someone you cannot afford to lose, Ish crawls into the mind of a psychologically unstable surgeon and a Palestine refugee. He wrote the story for the national school campaign of Te Gek!?, a flemish organization that tries to break the taboos surrounding psychiatric problems. If you lose someone you cannot afford to lose was adapted into a short film, directed by Ish himself, and broadcasted on national television in 2019.

In 2016, he as invited at the TEDx event ‘Architecting Happiness’ in Luxemburg, to talk about the power of storytelling. His TED-talk was named ‘The Dance of Storytelling’.

The beauty we share plays on the emotion journey of two characters dealing with the pressure of their environment on the background. A young Flemish girl with Moroccan roots, Soumia and Luc, an old Flemish man, both dealing with the solitude of life after a traumatic event. When they meet by chance, they face tearing choices. The beauty we share is a story of a society that is increasingly polarizing, in which the other is increasingly seen as a threat. The two main characters are recognizable to everyone but both of them have the courage to make choices other than te choices imposed. Two people starting a search for what is very scarce in this day and age: empathy.

CONNECT PEOPLE OF ALL AGES AND CULTURES

Ish knows how to turn a story into words and sentences to inspire his readers. At record speed, he moved the majority of the Belgian youngsters to read. The time he invests to connect with his readers, to listen to their stories and even include them in his thoughts, is unseen. An increasing number of fans from different ages and cultures get in touch with each other by following his work on social media. In his own television program ‘Alors on danse’, Ish challenges unexperienced employees from different companies and with different positions to dance against each other in a battle.

A NUANCED VOICE IN PUBLIC DEBATE

It didn’t take long for nationale media to pick up Ish as an important influencer of a very large and diverse part of society. In 2016, he was seen in primetime in ‘Back to your own country’ (SBS Belgium), a television program in which five famous Belgians travel in the track of the refugees coming from Iraq and Syria. Although Ish never wanted to ben an opinion maker, he has become a much appreciated guest in new programs.

In 2018 and 2019, he presented his theater show ‘Aangenaam. Ik ben Ish’ (Nice to meet you. I am Ish) in 44 theaters all over Flanders. More than 50.000 people attented the performance.

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