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Articles tagged "Algeria"

Naming the Arab: Kamel Daoud’s \“Meursault, contre-enquête\”

The Algerian novelist and journalist Kamel Daoud publishes a pithy, fast-paced critique of Algerian society five times a week in the French-language daily Quotidien d’Oran, and on Facebook. Readers value his insight, his poetry, his well-directed rage.  In 2010 a French reporter, in Oran to research Camus’ connection with the town, irritated Daoud by raising the tired question of whether Camus belongs to France or Algeria. “He’s not a leg of lamb...

The Last Six Days of Baghdad

This morning, I decide on another escape route to dodge the police surveillance of the rigid Mukhabarat we can’t seem to shake off. I will jump in the first illegal taxi that comes near the hotel and make a grand tour of Baghdad. No sooner said than done. I happen on an old retired civil servant, who’s turned illegal cab driver to make up his pension. In his wreck of a Fiat, Abdelbaki and I take a very long ride into the city, far from the hassle of the security...

Dead

the mother looked like the linden tree in the square like the wood of the table on which she wrote our faces like the log that didn’t sweat or complain about the smoke dead she began to avoid us turned her back to the mirror to the moon to the skylight less dead she would say that the moon was a loaf of bread baked between two stones   A moon doesn’t fill a bread-box doesn’t plug up the cracks in the sink doesn’t sweep the crumbs of...

As night became talkative

we were lent a window on a fragment of the world We we re the house and the road that led to the house The mother moved the door each time a train went by and at each procession toward     the cemetery The earth remained the same despite the dead buried in it They were wept for in unison but laughter was separate The mother sprinkled the doorstep with soot though she no longer had a cauldron  Her kitchen utensils fled after the last guest deserted her...

It was a November of bitter rain and snow blackened by use

we filed the dead leaves by size to ease the task of the forest that was absent for      reasons known only to itself The parents had left with the door We mistook puddles for creeks pebbles for meteorites the wind’s hordes for wolves A child would liquefy as soon as a snowflake touched the ground We could hold out till Epiphany handling our feet like toys waiting for a redistribution of parents   © Vénus Khoury-Ghata. By arrangement with the...

How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills

How to find the mother when her face disappeared behind the hills leaving us a body without contours two packets of cold for the armpits white grass for the pubis   Gone off with her friend the fire she spoke to us in flares and sparks from behind the hill’s shoulder her voice become brambles loose stones broom bush if a storm broke she collapsed in soot   whole nights spent down on the floor sniffing a sketch of her looking out for her rages in...

Illustrating Conflict: Perspectives from FIBDA

Under the heading "Algiers, Bubbles without Frontiers," this year's International Comics Festival of Algiers (Festival International de la Bande Dessinée d'Alger, or FIBDA) provides an important space for discussions and works around history, war, and conflict. I previously wrote about FIBDA in this series with an eye to the role it has played in the evolution and renaissance of Algerian comics. In this installment I would like to focus on the role comics can play as a...

An Open Letter to Mohamed Bouazizi

Dear Brother: I write these few lines to let you know we’re doing well, on the whole, though it varies from day to day: sometimes the wind changes, it rains lead, life bleeds from every pore. To tell the truth, I’m not quite sure where we stand; when you’re up to your neck in war, you can’t tell till the end whether to celebrate or mourn. And there it is, the crucial question: whether to follow or precede the others. The consequences aren’t the same. Some...

Is This How Women Grow Up?

It is all a matter of décor Change your bed change your body What’s the use since it is still Me betraying myself Indolent and scattered And my shadow undresses In the arms of girls, all alike, Where I thought I’d found a country —“Is this how men live” Louis Aragon August 1994. The afternoon seemed endless, the heat relentless. She was stretched out on the bed, hardly dressed, reading, smoking, splashing herself with water, dropping off...

July 2011


Arabic


Sweating and Swearing in “Clash of Civilizations”

In the opening chapter of Amara Lakhous's gritty mosaic, Clash of Civilizations over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, Parviz Mansoor interrupts his rambling monologue to comment on the way language is used by the nosy doorwoman, Benedetta: Guaglio' is Benedetta's favorite word. As you know, guaglio' means "fuck" in Neapolitan. At least, that's what a lot of Neapolitans I've worked with have told me. Every time she sees me head for the elevator she starts...

Speaks about “Clash of Civilizations”

"Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio" could be called a book about translation. It's the story of people from different cultures trying to live together in one place—a country, a city, a square, an apartment building, an elevator, even. Different customs, different languages, different foods. It takes place in Rome, in the neighborhood around Piazza Vittorio, where immigrants from all over the world have settled; the dominant culture, the host, so to...

An Introduction to Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio

"Doesn't make any difference who we are or what we are," a cholera germ announces in one of Twain's stories, "there's always somebody to look down on!" No recent novel illustrates the truth of this axiom with more precision, intelligence, and humor than Amara Lakhous's Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio, which is exactly what the title promises, except better. It's a satirical but not unsympathetic examination of the events leading up to a murder...

Scheherazade, C’est Moi? An Interview with Amara Lakhous

Algeria was imploding into civil war in 1993 when Amara Lakhous, born in 1970 in Algiers, wrote his first novel. But no bombs go off in The Bedbugs and the Pirate, the inner monologue of a Gogolian forty- year-old post office clerk who is about to lose his job, having already lost his fiancée, his apartment, and his prospects for a life worth living. Sad stuff, but the book is laugh-out-loud funny. On his way to the brothel he visits every Thursday, religiously , the...

from Wanderings

In the Country of Sands There are hours apart, very mysteriously privileged moments, when certain lands reveal to us, during sudden intuition, their soul, in some way their own essence, when we develop an accurate and unique vision, and which months of patient study would not be able to complete, nor to modify. However, during these furtive instants, the details necessarily escape us and we are only able to perceive the whole of things. A peculiar state of our soul, or a special aspect...

from Fever

"Read that," said Studer, thrusting a telegram under his friend Madelin's nose. It was dark outside the Palais de Justice, the Seine gurgled as it lapped against the quai and the nearest street-lamp was a few yards away. "Greetings from young Jakobli to old Jakob Hedy." The commissaire read out the words haltingly once he was under the flickering gaslight. Although Madelin had been attached to the Sûreté in Strasbourg some years before, and therefore was not entirely...

“Villon and I,” from “Territoires d’Outre-Ville”

The ties between Arab youth and the law bring to mind, in many ways, a nineteenth-century novel. For a long time I was fragile, yet in the pervasive delinquency around me, I seemed driven by some borrowed force. Invariably, the ghetto child's first act of revolt is to commit an offence. Poverty, that traditional proletarian sickness, dictates every action. Therein lie the roots of begging, of thieving. I recall being hungry the way a grown man is hungry in the streets of this country. I...

from The Butcher’s Aesthetics

The two friends' meetings resembled a ritual that went back to the years of holy struggle when they would drink more cups of coffee than they could count to give them energy, a small vice Laid Touhami had picked up in the mountains and the mayor at a young age, since his father considered coffee an aphrodisiac and permanently wore a necklace of coffee beans round his neck. In fact, coffee had been behind Zineddine Ayachi's flight into the Ouarsenis and his joining the ranks of...

Bloodred Dew

The two men were alone now. Or was it two women? The night stretched on endlessly. So did the mountain. And the frosted sky lying lightly over the mountain began to pale. The mountain stood facing them, bristling with rocky spurs, with clusters of thorn bushes: snow-dusted specters, already white-congealed. The men (the women?) were two lone figures. The silhouettes that had been climbing for quite some time now might well have been taken for two phantoms. Just the two men, alone, cut...

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