Book Review: Les Enfant des Frontières

Two weeks ago I was at a conference about the “refugees crisis” in Europe. The talk was given by a geographer researcher specialised in migrations, one who could have been among the 19 who signed the contribution in Le Monde refuting Kamel Daoud’s article in the same newspaper. A “bien-pensant” intellectual as Daoud’s friends would have called her (cf. this article in El Watan and a reaction to it in Le Matin) or simplistically a jealous person as prodigy Daoud himself would have called her had she been Algerian.

So there were maps, statistics and graphs with some geopolitics putting things back in their context. It was very interesting and informative. People should get access to such information to, at least, try to avoid situations such as having some former refugees who do not want their new country to take in new ones. Especially when a “renowned” journalist and writer implies that the new refugees come with a cultural sickness which makes them prone to violence and “that the disease is spreading to their own lands.”

The same happens in Algeria with the sub-Saharan refugees who either stay in the South or move farther to the Northern cities (dying, for some, while crossing the Sahara). In Bejaia (and elsewhere), you can see them, men, women, children and babies turned into street beggars or very low-cost workers in construction/farming fields. They rely on the locals’ generosity and also suffer from their animosity (some in Algeria say they’d spread their diseases – yes, it’s the bell ringing that you hear.)

So I though I’d write a very short review of a beautiful book on the times when our people were themselves refugees, pushed out by the French occupier’s policies and seeking refuge in neighbouring Morocco and Tunisia if not farther. Continue reading

Book Review: Les Algériennes du château d’Amboise

Tomorrow we will celebrate the 61st anniversary of the Algerian Revolution. I used to dedicate a post to this occasion with a link to a song or a poem. This time will be different as I am taking this opportunity to finish this book review draft and post it.

The Algerian Revolution was the final step taken by the Algerian people towards their independence. All the armed and peaceful resistance actions taken since the French invasion in 1830 paved the way for the glorious War of Independence. The resistance movement led by Emir Abdekader was a major episode even though it ended with the prince surrendering to the French who imprisoned him and his followers in France instead of sending him to today’s Turkey, Syria, Egypt or KSA as was agreed between the Emir and the Duke of Aumale. And this is where Amel Chaouati’s book comes in.

Many books have been and are written on Emir Abdelkader but only a few speak of his 97 followers (including 21 women and 15 children and babies) and I don’t remember reading any which relate the story of the women amongst them during his detention period in France (three months in Toulon, four in Pau and four long years in Amboise). Chaouati tried to tackle this aspect.

I admit I was more sceptical when I bought the 1500 DZD worth book than when I started reading this one. I wondered what the author would have to say knowing the scarcity of historical sources. And I was right, there was little material to fill the 204 pages of the book except that the author chose a different perspective.

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Book Review: The Dead Ass

Mise en page 1My previous book review was dedicated to the now International Star Kamel Daoud. It was almost a year ago and, back then, Daoud was a LQO newspaper chronicler known by a few Algerians. Eleven months later and after some TV appearances in France, a lost Goncourt, a threat by a Salafi clown and a Goncourt First Novel Prize, Daoud has become Algeria’s best author and specialist in all social, Islamic and political questions… abroad.

I still believe that Daoud wouldn’t have been acclaimed that much (in France) and certainly not awarded a penny had he not written something related to Albert Camus and had his political opinions been different. For his novel is boring most of the time just like his chronicles (you can disagree) which are also sad and depressing (you must agree). Today Daoud Continue reading

Book Review : Meursault, Counter Investigation


I hesitated a lot before reading this book. I had been a reader of Kamel Daoud‘s chronicles (without quite agreeing with their content) before I stopped a few years ago as he grew gloomier than ever. But I checked them again a few times during the last presidential elections and I liked what I read. This added to the fact that I felt Camus‘s The Stranger needed an answer if not a sequel convinced me to make the move.

I read The Stranger many years ago and, like many, felt a void left by the missing details on the Arab man killed by Meursault. This void combined to Camus’s statements/stance during the Algerian war of independence led to the many polemics around Camus and his belonging (or not) to Algeria.

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The Kingdom of Algiers needs a hospital

Algerian president’s health brought us the attention of international media since he left the country to France. Everybody wonders how ill he is and whether he is dead or not. Questions around his succession have also been raised by most observers. And some suggested this would be our change opportunity, peacefully or through a “spring”. Up to us they say.

The other topic which goes with Bouteflika’s illness is of course the fact he’s treated in Paris. The Algerian authorities themselves are aware of the image this displays before the people and the world. The first official message said the president refused to go abroad, that Continue reading

Book Review: Black Suits You

TulipsMy objective behind the Book Reviews section is to write about the books I liked and/or which deal with some “interesting/useful” topic; and so far I’ve been successful in doing so. The previous book I reviewed was a disappointment but at least it allowed me to highlight one or two aspects about Algerian writers.

Black Suits You by Ahlam Mosteghanemi was beyond disappointment. The only good thing about it is that it can be read quickly, especially when you do like me and read only half the words starting from page 200.

I’ve read most of Ahlam’s novels, actually all but I liked Memory in the Flesh more than Chaos of the Senses and Passer-by a Bed. She’s a good writer and I like her style but her novels are all the same. So I was aware that I was going to read just another variant of Mosteghanemi’s work when I bought Black Suits You, but I didn’t expect the boredom I experienced while reading it. Continue reading

Book Review: Bleu Blanc Vert

BleuBlancVertMany Algerian writers, too many of them in my opinion, concentrate in their writings on two specific periods: the colonisation/war of independence and the nineties, the black decade.

And I got fed up with them. This is why I was glad when I found Maissa Bey‘s novel “Blue White Green“. The novel relates a story which takes place between 1962 and 1992.

I actually don’t know what to think of it. I rarely appreciate novels written by Algerian (but not only) female writers. Whenever I read one I get the feeling it’s written by a woman for a feminine readership, unlike novels written by men which are suitable for both genders.

Anyway, the novel is written in the same style as “Voices“. Maissa Bey uses her two main characters, Lilas and Ali, to narrate the story. Each their turn. It starts in 1962 with a girl and a boy and evolves with them as they grow up, love each other, get married, have their child, and ends in 1992. Continue reading

Links: Algerian Female Bloggers

I have shared in a previous post a list of the Algerian English blogs I knew. Today I am going to share links to another category, blogs owned by Algerian women. And as this category is bigger than the blogs written in English, I will only give links to the blogs I follow.

So here they are with no particular order.

Salima Ghezali is an Algerian journalist and you can read her editorials here. She doesn’t really have a blog but I am mentioning her because I consider her weekly audio editorials on Medi1 Radio as blog posts.

Ghania Mouffok is also Continue reading

Hanin Omar – حنين عمر

I first heard of Hanin Omar in 2007 in the “Princes of Poets” TV show. She is one of Algeria’s new generation poets, many of whom write in Arabic and some in French. She was born in Oran in 1984 (I am not very sure about the year) and, besides being a poet, she is a medical doctor.

In one of her interviews, she said that she started writing poetry at the age of 9 when she came across a poetry book, read one of Nizar Qabbani‘s poems and tried to copy him. She likes to call herself “the pupil of Nizar Qabbani”, while some do call her “words fairy” or “poetry Cinderella”. Don’t ask me why.

Besides the TV show I mentioned above, Continue reading

The president watches France24

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. I guess this means a video is worth a whole book, right?
Let us then watch this 55 seconds long video and write down the messages it conveys.

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