Book Review: Avec tes mains

Lhyza Libertad reviews a book she read and, I believe, liked. I had never heard of this author before so thanks Lhyza for letting us (me) know about him and for your contribution to Patriots on Fire.
As this is (only) the second guest-post we’ve got on the blog, I take this opportunity to remind our readers that the blog is open to all guest-posts on topics related in a way or another to Algeria.

Here is Lhyza’s text.

avec tes mainsIn August 2013 I went on a trip to France and my last stop was in Paris. You know this town, that people either love for its romanticism or hate for its rudeness. This town, which has thousands of streets filled with book shops. As a book lover I spent almost all my free time in these book shops if I was not meeting my friend Ingrid or watching a film with my hosts near Telegraphe in the 19ème. My hosts were really artistic and open-minded, they recommended me to go to the Arab World Institute to see an interesting exhibition there. Of course I followed their recommendation and went there. As in all museums or exhibition centres you have a book shop with various objects that they also sell, as souvenirs you know.

I am coming to the point. Be patient. I like giving a small framework for the book and the story of the discovery. Some of you may know that I have Algerian origins, and a family story quite linked to the country anyway. As I did not know Algerian authors and that I could have the choice to choose the author according to the country I then decided to lead toward the Algeria shelving. As usual spending hours checking books, titles, authors, style of writing, main topic and various other things. People might tell you that I am quite picky. Anyway now it is time to lead toward Ahmed Kalouaz and his wonderful work “Avec tes mains“.

Kalouaz[1]Ahmed Kalouaz has published quite a lot of books for different kinds of audiences. The book “Avec tes mains” that I am currently holding in my hands has been published under the collection of Babel. It is quite a short book, I finished it all during a flight, easy to read for people who do not want to spend hours trying to understand one sentence. However, bear in mind, it may be easy to read but, you are still able to savour the style of the author, which is quite sweet.

The book is structured in a certain way: a part represents 10 years: from 1932 to 2002. There is this delicate impression given by the author that the book does not address to an audience but is more about an intimate confession from the son to his father, he is directly addressing his father with “tu” (you singular in French). This also establishes a situation of trust and closeness between them.

According to me, the whole book is like a poem, I could read it aloud and still savour the sweetness of the words and structures. As it is written in the summary, behind the book, it seems to be like a late love letter to his father. It is all about regrets and what has been missing in life. I like at the end when Ahmed Kalouaz tries to decide what to do about his father’s body, keep him in France, send him back to Algeria, there are different meanings to this, now what is best for his father. And it also ends on an ounce of regrets due to the hard choice.

This book is much deeper than what it is seems to be, it is mainly about identity and the fight as a father for his family. A fight seen through the eyes of a child … With the hands of his father he could hold on to the world and continue through the path of life.

“C’est triste une main d’homme

                                   qui n’a jamais tenu un livre entre ses doigts.” 

                                                              Ahmed Kalouaz

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Avec tes mains

  1. Nice review, and without giving much away about the story. Something I am unable to do when reviewing a book 🙂
    So you made me curious and I checked other reviews online. Almost all are positive but I must admit I don’t feel like reading something about Algerian immigrants’ life in France and, as I read somewhere, the rise of religious fanaticism, etc. Not now at least.

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