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Articles tagged "Algerian Literature"

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...

Celebrating International Mother Language Day

On February 2, 1952, during a peaceful demonstration to demand national status in East Pakistan for the Bengali language, four students were shot dead in the street. A postcolonial trauma that would lead to war and the creation of the nation of Bangladesh. In 1999 the General Conference of UNESCO proclaimed February 21 as International Mother Language Day “to promote all the languages of the world, as an effective mobilization opportunity for linguistic diversity and...

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...

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...

Crossing

I The one that swaddles us the purest and the most defiled stilled sea, no admittance devourer of seven prompted by overweening daring or by chance to listen to the sirens’ song dive into the sulfur maternal obsession still wavering today despite frequent transformations often pathetic as if the gaze caught in raw blue the soul that placed itself once and for all after having been given up thoroughly weaned to the street after school It was a red-roofed...

Seismic Activity

I am one of those writers who like to incorporate the short story in the novel. I did so in some novels, playing with forms. But to place the novel in the short story is another story, virtually impossible. All the more complicated as I write novels in French and short stories in English as a third language. To instill the expansiveness of the novel into the instinctiveness of the short story has been one of my literary dreams for years. I have toyed with the idea till recently when I...

Sofiane B., Age Twenty

Translator's Note: Maïssa Bey lost her father in the Algerian war for independence. A grade-school teacher in a small town south of Algiers, and a political organizer for the National Liberation Front, he was arrested, tortured, and executed within the space of forty-eight hours in February 1957. Bey was six years old at the time. The trauma of early loss has marked her life and work. A high-school French teacher in Sidi Bel Abbes, in western Algeria, she began writing for...

The Truth According to Parviz Mansoor Samadi

I'll tell you about Mario the Neapolitan some other time. Now you want to know everything about Amedeo—that is, start dinner with dessert? As you wish. The customer is king. I still remember the first time I saw him. He was sitting at one of the desks in the first row near the blackboard. I approached; there was an empty seat near his, I smiled and sat down next to him after saying the only Italian word I knew—"Ciao!" This word is really helpful, you use it when you're...

Absence

Summer's reaching its end. Noise becomes intermittent; you no longer hear the throb of car engines, or children having fun. The village shrinks back inside its shell: the time for hibernation is looming. The last vacationers are piling into their cars. They're tanned, revitalized. They're going back to the fold, to the alarm going off at 6 a.m., the rush to the bus stop, the doorman's indifferent expression, the stacks of files on the desk, the long lines outside...

Tales of a Severed Head, I

What city and what night since it's night in the city when a woman and a train-station argue over the same half of a man who is leaving. He is young, handsome he is leaving for a piece of white bread. She is young, beautiful as a springtime cluster trying to flower for the last time for her man who is leaving. But the train arrives but the branch breaks but suddenly it's raining in the station in the midst of spring. And the train emerges from all directions It...

XXIII

Where I walk I see doors and it's not clear and it's not simple. Where I walk I see women and the women twist themselves along branches. A wall to the left, a wall to the right and moss everywhere, to make it even darker. Will I see the fountain where the water becomes ebony becomes boat, becomes oar and hurls...

“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...

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