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17 books

The Meursault Investigation

by

3.57 rating

Comment 1: این رمان داستان بیگانهی کامو رو از زاویهی دید مقتول و خانوادهش تعریف میکنه... حقیقتاً فکر میکردم رمان بهتری باشه اما در واقع داستانی بود که نویسنده توی هفتاد درصدش یه حرف رو تکرار میکرد.... داستان تقریباً دیالوگ نداره و ریتمش کنده خود داستان هم برام جذابیتی نداشت .... از اواسط داستان که پای ژوزف و انقلاب الجزایر به داستان باز شد داستان داشت یه مقدار جون میگرفت اما نویسنده خیلی سریع و سرسری ازش رد شد... در کل برای من لذتبخش نبود Comment 2: ايده ى اصلى كتاب برام خيلى جذاب بود. خورده گرفتن از قهرمان بيگانه ى آلبركامو بدليل دروغ جلوه دادن خيلى از توصيفات تو كتابش و بدليل استفاده از كلمه " عرب " براى مقتول و نه نام و نشان اصلى خودش و سرگذشتى كه خانواده مقتول در تمام سال هاى بعد از كشته شدن عرب و استقلال كشور الجزاير از فرانسه رخ

Fantasia

by

3.64 rating

Comment 1: I quite loved this raising of women's voices that plays with the deeply collective nature of their experience. It acknowledges the strengths of an enforced world of women hidden away behind veils and walls, but also its high walls and limitations, examining the fractures in that world as women support the independence struggle, receive an education, travel to Paris. They are both joyful and devastating fractures. This narrative from multiple viewpoints in time and space struggles with an undifferentiated mass of understanding, survival of a life cycle where freedom of streets and speech end before puberty and all else folds in on the family and other women, but also those women who have been torn like splinters from it, whether through education or the freedom struggle. There is pride in this heritage, and also frustration. Nothing is easy and nothing is entirely one thing or the other.She writes:How could a woman speak aloud, even in Arabic, unless on the threshold of extreme age? How could she say 'I', since that would be to scorn the blanket-formulae which ensure that each individual journeys through life in a collective resignation? . . .my oral tradition has gradually been overlaid and is in danger of vanishing: at the age of eleven or twelve I was abruptly ejected from this theatre of feminine confidences -- was I thereby spared from having to silence my humble pride? in writing of my childhood memories I am taken back to those bodies bereft of voices. to attempt an autobiography using French words alone is to lend oneself to the vivisector's scalpel, revealing what lies beneath the skin. the flesh flakes off, and with it, seemingly, the last shreds of the unwritten language of my childhood. (156)The complications of relationships around gender fold into the complications of the colonial relationships fold into the complications of being a writer and a women emerging from then women's world of illiteracy and oral tradition. It is a swirl of what is lost and what is gained negotiating all of these sides, and a needed counterpoint to the more straightforward narratives of the French/Algerian struggle narrated so eloquently by Mouloud Feraoun, and Alistair Horne.It is the French as the Other:The policeman and his family suddenly seemed like transient ghosts in this locality, whereas these images, these objects became the true inhabitants of the place! For me, these French homes gave off a different smell, a mysterious light; for me, the French are still 'The Others', and I am still hypnotized by their shores.Throughout my childhood, just before the war which was to bring us independence, I never crossed a single French threshold, I never entered the home of a single French schoolfellow... (23)It is the French use of language, and their imprisoning within their own ideologies and stories, contrasted with young Algerian women:But what is the significance behind the urge of so many fighting men to relive in print this month of July 1830? Did their writings allow them to savor the seducer's triumph, the rapist's intoxication? These texts are distributed in the Paris of Louis-Phillipe, far from Algerian soil...Their words thrown up by such a cataclysm are for me like a comet's tail, flashing across the sky and leaving it forever riven.And words themselves become a decoration, flaunted by officers like the carnations they wear in their buttonholes; words will become their most effective weapons. Hordes of interpreters, geographers, ethnographers, linguists, botanists, diverse scholars and professional scribblers will swoop down on this new prey. The supererogatory protuberances of their publications will form a pyramid to hide the initial violence from view.The girls who were my friends and accomplices during my village holidays wrote in the same futile, cryptic language because they were confined, because they were prisoners; they mark their marasmus* with their own identity in an attempt to rise above their pathetic plight. The accounts of this past invasion reveal a contrario an identical nature: invaders who imagine they are taking the impregnable City, but who wander aimlessly in the undergrowth of their own disquiet. (45)It explores the collectivity of women created by time and tradition and strict rules. One of the narrator's sits outside of this, she receives a love letter and somehow feels it is for all:those women who never received a letter: no word taut with desire, stretched like a bow, no message run through with supplication. (60)There exists the fact that husbands always referred to as 'he' and not by name because for each woman there can be only one he, a multitude of unnamed men to match the multitude of women present. A tradition that beats individuality off with a stick, disciplines human being into the roles laid out for them.You escape Algeria momentarily for Paris, the uneasy relationship, love found between two young people there, even as they remain trapped in the webs of revolutionary fratricidal violence:The couple continued to roam the streets, chatting together, momentarily free of the others and the 'Revolution'; nevertheless, even if their embraces in a doorway could not claim that they were making history, still their happiness was part of the collective fever, and they were always on the look-out to see if they were being shadowed and to throw the police off their trail. But the police were not seen to be the greatest danger...the couple knew that the secret fratricidal struggle was all around them....As they strolled through the Paris streets together, at every crossroads the girl's eyes instinctively avoided the tricolour flag whose red reminded her of the blood of her compatriots recently guillotined in a Lyons prison...(102).Here a woman finds freedom and expression and space in the streets without being the prostitutes idealised by Breton or Soupault, without being the flaneuse or nightwalker.A woman walks alone one night in Paris. Walking for walking's sake, to try to understand...Searching for words and so dream no more, wait no longer.Rue Richelieu, ten, eleven o'clock at night; the autumn air is damp, To understand . . . Where will this tunnel of interior silence lead? Just the act of walking, just to put one foot energetically down in front of the other, feeling my hips swinging, sensing my body lightly moving, makes my life seem brighter and the walls, all the walls vanish . . .While the solitude of these recent months dissolves in the fresh cool tints of the nocturnal landscape, suddenly the voice bursts forth. It drains off all the scoriae of the past. What voice? is it my voice, scarcely recognizable? (115)Some find voice in the city streets of Paris. Some find voice in the French language. But always it comes at a cost:As if the French language suddenly had eyes, and lent them to me to see into liberty; as if the French language blinded the peeping-toms of my clan and, at this price, I could move freely, run headlong down every street, annex the outdoors for my cloistered companions, for the matriarchs of my family who endured a living death. As it . . . Derision! I know that every language is a dark depository for piled-up corpses, refuse, sewage, but faced with the language of the former conqueror, which offers me its ornaments, its jewels, its flowers, I find they are flowers of death... (181)And yet...To refuse to veil one's voice and to start 'shouting', that was really indecent, real dissidence.Writing in a foreign language, not in either of the tongues of my native country...writing has brought me to the cries of the women silently rebelling in my youth, to my own true origins.Writing does not silence the voice, but awakens it, above all to resurrect so many vanished sisters. (204)Nothing can sit easily here. Nothing avoids contradictions.After more than a century of French occupation -- which ended not long ago in such butchery -- a similar no-man's land still exists between the French and the indigenous languages, between two national memories: the French tongue, with its body and voice, has established a proud presidio within me, while the mother-tongue, all oral tradition, all rags and tatters, resists and attacks between two breathing spaces. In time to the rhythm of the rebato, I am alternately the besieged foreigner and the native swaggering off to die, so there is seemingly endless strife between the spoken and written word (215)A story comes near the end of the book, interspersed with an old woman telling of her hardships in supporting the freedom struggle, the house burned down about her, tramping into the hills. Burying her sons. A young woman joining the struggle. Burying her brother. This story of a wedding, a celebration of women to which uninvited guests can come and watch but cannot remove their veils and join in.As if they were finding a way of forgetting their imprisonment, getting their own back on the men who kept them in the background: the males -- father, sons, husband -- were shut out once and for all by the women themselves who, in their own domain, began to impose the veil in turn on others. (205)It mourns and celebrates the opening up of this world, the freeing of women and men from these bonds, and looks uneasily into the future and the crushing of contradictions and the voices that they made possible.I wait amid the shatter sheaf of sounds, I wait, forseeing he inevitable moment when the mare's hoof will strike down any woman who dares to stand up freely, will trample all life that comes out into the sunlight to dance! Yes, in spite of the tumult of my people all around, I already hear, even before it arises and pierces the harsh sky, I head the death cry in the Fantasia.Paris/Venice/Algiers(July '82--October '84)*severe malnutrition characterized by energy deficiency.

Unbowed: An Algerian Woman Confronts Islamic Fundamentalism

by

4.14 rating

In 1993, a handwritten envelope arrived in Khalida Messaoudi's mailbox. In it was an official communique announcing that she had been condemned to death by the Islamic Salvation Front. This letter came after a series of threats and an attempt on her life

Empires of Sand

by

3.97 rating

Comment 1: Empires of Sand is an exciting, plot driven adventure story based on true events. It starts with a bang - a boar hunt in the Bois de Boulogne in Paris. Two cousins, Moussa and Paul, are playing in the very same forest,of course in close proximity to the furious, wounded boar. What will happen?! The adventure continues chronicling the de Vries family through Bismarck's siege of Paris, 1870-71, with balloon flights and subterranean escape routes under the streets of Paris. The hunger, the rats, and two boys up to pranks. The research is solid and the escapades are fun and exciting. The story doesn't stop there. Next thing you know you are off to the deserts of Sahara. And there we have the Tuareg people. Again the author has built his story on research about these proud people. The women are unveiled and independent, but the men are hidden behind indigo colored veils. All one sees is their eyes through small slits. Here the book continues to follows Moussa and Paul within the framework of real events. France wanted to build a railroad that would cross the Algerian Sahara south to Timbuktu in the French Sudan, what is today Mali. Colonel Paul Flatters led an exploratory expedition for France in 1880-81. The true events of this massacre are related through this story. You are delivered one adventure after another. You get love and hatred and the evils of the Church and balloon rides and...... put your self in a deep irrigation tunnel, naked, digging as a slave. This is an adventure story that teaches about real historical events.You can tell the author is having fun. There is humor. You can tell the author is poking at the church.....wait till you meet the Bishop and oh, there is a demonic nun! The author clearly has a message about hatred, about love and about being an outsider, a person who doesn't fit in. Impressive narration by George Guidall.The audiobook had both an author's note and a final interview with the author. Perfect conclusion to a fun book. The author says that the most successful parts of any book will be those parts where the author has had fun. Authors must write for themselves. It is difficult; you must persevere. You must build upon solid research. I think this author has had fun and there is solid research. It shows.

Tomboy

by

3.42 rating

Comment 1: I've always felt illegal at passport checkpoints. Without correct papers. Always expect to be ejected from the line of passengers, surrounded and seized by two police officers, then taken to a small room. Who are you? Where are you from? Where are you going?Apparently largely autobiographical, Tomboy is the story of Yasmina/Nina/Jasmine, born to an Algerian father and a French mother only a few years after the very bloody liberation war, growing up in Algiers with a boy for a best friend, which works fine as long as they're children. But then she reaches puberty and gradually becomes aware of what she is by what she is not; female, mixed-race, tomboyish, gay, too foreign in both of her home countries, she faces a low-key but constant barrage of everything from open racist hostility to well-meaning can-I-pet-the-dog curiosity from all those who recognise her as Something Different, while the climate hardens in both Algeria and France. Yada yada yada, important, yeah, but we've heard that before. What makes it fresh is the way she tells it, both in the detail, all the tiny little impressions that make up everyday life, and in that prose, all short sentences bouncing off and contrasting and contradicting and expanding on each other. Reading Bouraoui is like putting together a 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle, where you find yourself admiring both the individual pieces and the finished product, but it's the act of watching it all come together to form a whole that stays with you.

The Lovers of Algeria: A Novel

by

3.87 rating

Comment 1: NO SPOILERS!Last night I finished this book. I simply had to digest it a bit before summarizing my views. I have chosen three stars, but pay attention when I say this is definitely a book to read! It does have faults. These weighed in when I reduced the four to three stars. The book very well describes the pandemonium of Algerian life during the 1900s from the pov of Arabs. This is how life was for those down and under. In this is thrown a Swiss who loves an Arab and she is too drowned in the horrors perpetuated by the French, WW2 and the Islamic jihad terrorists at the end of the century. This is how life was - so it is not a comfortable read by any means! The reader is THERE, living those, but don't look for tons of historical facts. They facts are sparse. What you get is how life was then for those there, living in Algeirs. Another reason why I loved the book was its portrayal of friendship. Utterly magnificent. One such relationship is between two wives married to an Arab! Really, really this was very well done. Another is between an elderly woman and a young boy, who were not family, but who chose each other to be family. Love between a man and a woman is also beautifully drawn. (Does love lead to disaster? - Another thing to ponder while reading this book.) In addition some of the lines were just so funny or sad or sardonic that I wanted to frame them and put them up on the wall. So why only three stars? Parts made me so uncomfortable due to the brutality and filthy language. The book had to be this way, but still I was uncomfortable. The time-line is jumbled. Sometimes I had to go back and reread sections to figure out how to get the story straight.....to understand the order of events. Maybe that is just my feeble brain. OK, and the end was too neatly tied up. I thought the end was bad, but I cannot say anything b/c that would be a spoiler. These three negative characteristics prevented me from giving the book 4 stars. I want a 4 star book to be VERY, VERY GOOD. Still, most of the time I WAS thoroughly absorbed in the book. A bad ending on a good book isn't that important. A confusing book doesn't mean a bad book. Sometimes really disgusting events must be given to correctly depict what was going on in real life. See, I can argue with myself on and on..... Since I award the stars on my reviews, seen as a clump, the tree minusues bring down the total of stars awarded - BUT READ THE BOOK (if you have a strong stomach). I am always like this - I never really can make up my mind..... There are so many ways of looking at a question.Through page 165: Remember the title? The LOVERS of Algeria - yes it is a love story too. Why do I like it? Well because the people are emotional and real and tempermental, and they do crazy things just like real people really do. How can people be calm and practical and sane when the world they live in is in such a horrible mess?Through page 132: Now I ssimply cannot put the book down. I enjoy it so very, very much. It is perhaps confusing in the beginning, but if you are a little patient all becomes clear. There are even dates mentioned. Life in Algeria under the French colonial forces and afterwards during the civil war are wrenchingly depicted. But the story is far from being horrible - there are relationships that are so wonderful that the rest seems just like like life, something you have to get through. Some of the lines are stunning:"Life isn't the best thing ever invented, little brother, as you'll soon find out...." (page 129)"His mother, to prevent herself from crying, had resorted to shouting at him...." (page 129)And here is a longer passage starting on page 105:"she wonders, stupidly, how does one set about dying?"She senses the full moon watching her, hateful with its prying glare. She retches from breathlessness. A thread of saliva runs down her chin, a drop of sweat down her forehead. The prespiration quickly freezes. She is barefoot. Suddenly she is aware that her feet are huring abominably and, to her surprise, although determined to die, she finds herself wishing she could die with her feet in a pair of warm slippers....""She is delirious, but she can't fight it. She has lost control of her mind. Little by little, the dam holding back her memories is giving way. She is immersed in the past, and its warmth is even more lethal than the cold. Now she understands what is meant by 'to die': it is the sharp wrench of losing all those little things that one has lived through."And there is such friendship . It is worth reading this book just to see this friendship grow between two women. You must read the book to see whom I am speaking of.Through page 87: Please read comment 2 below. To give you a taste of the writing style here follows a quote. This quote from page 87 also exemplifies what I said in comment two."Don't cry son.""I'm not crying. I'm just sniffing. Jallal protests between sobs. "you can see that I am not crying....."And he began to shed hot tears. Anna, heartbroken, takes the boy in her arms and, quite unselfconsciously, dissolves into tears herself. Hugging one another, each strives to comfort the other. Jalla hiccups: "But Grandma, crying won't help!," and Anna, her tears flowing more copiously than ever, responds : "I'm not crying....what gives you that idea? You're the one who's crying.... I'm just blowing my nose!"At last, the little guide's two black eyes focus on the Swiss woman's kohl-streaked face. "Shit, what a sight! Your face ....it's all black!""And what about yours, my little pirate, do you think you look any better?"Suddenly, they burst out laughing. Jallal puts a hand to his nose: "Ow, ow! That arsehole, that fucker of his mother's lover! Ow, ow, just wait till I catch him."Anna, startled, says wickedly: "I shouldn't say such things at my age, but ... arsehole, fucker of....how did you put it?""...his mother's lover...""That's it....dam him, he has certainly taken us for a ride! What do we do now?"There is a real friendship growing. There is alot of filthy language, but most often most it is just talk. So far at least.

Children of the New World

by

3.66 rating

Comment 1: The history of war told mainly through the stories of various women makes that history unusually passive, but also unusually human and compelling. It also gives a good insight into a society where women are not expected to be active. This is not "The Battle for Algiers" in book form; it shows a different and very personal side to the history. It is a novel set at a moment in history, its concerns are more about what people think and feel than what they do. The two youngest women remain frustrati Comment 2: Taking place in 1956, in a mountain town, during the Algerian revolution, this is a series of vignettes showing how different people, and families were affected. Their relationships harbor secrets, some are destroyed and many others changed and often not in a good way. I was surprised at how strong many of the woman were, not all, but some. These stories encompass many different walks of life from informer, to teacher, to police and show the many diverse sides of this war against the French. Som Comment 3: This novel is a history fictional novel set in a small Algerian city near the mountains in 1956. The author described in this book the general changing lives of Algerian women and men in a small city during the Occupation and the beginning of the fight for Independence. The author is a great story-teller who gave us a general and realistic picture of how Algerians lived during that era and the small, but important changes occurring within the Algerian society. The author chose to narrate this st

Nedjma

by

3.67 rating

Comment 1: When I was reading this I found myself thinking a lot about Camus's L'Étranger, in which, you remember, a random Algerian Arab is shot and killed by a pied noir. (‘Because it was hot’, essentially.) You never hear much about this Arab victim – he's just there at the wrong time. Well this book is a kind of response to that. The characters here are all young out-of-work Algerian Arabs, and the few Europeans that appear are remote, unknowable characters who (as in Camus) are liable to erupt into moments of inexplicable violence. They are dismissed en masse as ‘colonisers’ – les prétendants sans titre et sans amour.This should be really interesting, right? This is a period you hear too little about – after the Sétif massacre of 1945 but before the Algerian War itself had started, a period when European-Arab relations were teetering on a precipice (one character spends his time at school carving INDEPENDENCE FOR ALGERIA on the desks). As cannot be stressed too often, Algeria at this point was a fully-integrated part of France; indeed the départements which comprised its major regions were older than some of those in mainland France (Savoie, for example).But I had real problems with this book. For me it was at first boring, then incomprehensible (and then finally, despite myself, intriguing – but more of that later). I have to come out and say that there could be a language issue here – I was really struggling to follow the prose. But then again, a lot of native speakers apparently find it equally impenetrable, so at least part of the effect is stylistic. Paragraphs sprawl, unspaced, across several pages, circling in and out of different time periods, switching between characters without warning, and bursting into a prose-poetry full of odd metaphors and random exclamations:Le musicien sent fondre son talent dans la solitude ; il raccroche le luth ; le calme de Kamel ne fait que l'affubler du masque de cruauté que Nedjma compose à qui ne tombe pas dans son jeu ; elle pleure sans prendre garde aux protestations de Lella Fatma : « ...un homme si bon, tout en miel, à croire que ce n'est pas le fils de sa mère ! Que veux-tu donc ? Un goujat qui vendrait tes bijoux, un ivrogne ? » Invivable consomption du zénith! prémices de fraîcheur...[Can I even bear to translate this? It's along these lines:]The musician feels his talent melt into the solitude; he puts down his lute; Kamel's calm merely cloaks him with the mask of cruelty that Nedjma creates for anyone who doesn't play along with her game; she weeps, taking no notice of Lella Fatma's protestations: ‘such a good man, like honey, to think that he's not his mother's son! What are you waiting for? Some pig who sells off your jewellery, a drunk?’ The unbearable consumption of the zenith! the beginnings of a coolness…What the fucking hell is going on here? I have no idea. If you think that this must make more sense in context, then believe me, you're quite wrong. Yacine's style has been described as Faulknerian, I suppose because of the hyperbolic poetic language, but it wasn't Faulkner he reminded me of. I had a bolt-of-lightning moment when, after I finished the novel, I read the introduction to my Éditions Points copy and saw that Yacine's favourite author as a kid had been none other than Gérard de Nerval.(‘Fuck me!’ I said out loud when I read this bit; unfortunately it was after midnight last night, and my wife jolted awake and into a sort of anti-burglar stance on the bed. Bafflingly, she didn't seem to share my excitement, although as she dropped back on to the pillow there was an expression on Hannah's face that I interpreted as meaning, ‘If I'm immediately shutting my eyes again, it's only so as to better reflect on the Nervalian aesthetic in Yacine's prose.’ Although she didn't say that, she just said ‘Turn the cocking light out Warwick.’)Nerval is sort of the missing link that helped me understand what Yacine is trying to do. The character of Nedjma herself resembles nothing more than one of the strange femmes fatales in Nerval's Les Filles du feu, and the phrases I used in my review of that book – ‘oneiric’, ‘instability of time and place and person’, ‘floats off into poetry’ – apply perfectly here. Nedjma gives her name to the novel, but she's not really there in the actual story, just a sort of distant radiant presence. Nedjma in Arabic is نجمة, which means star, I'm pretty sure, and she exerts a sort of astral attraction for the main characters (‘Le crépuscule d'un astre … c'était toute sa sombre beauté’).I was on the point of giving up on this book several times. And then suddenly, two-thirds of the way through, without quite knowing why, something about the rambling, chaotic prose just started to click with me. There are some wonderfully moody descriptions of the eastern cities of Constantine and Annaba (the latter referred to by its colonial name of Bône) – Constantine, for instance, is sketched as ‘a city of brooding menace, always tempted by decadence, shaken by millennarian trances’. A description of someone preparing a lump of hash to smoke is beautifully exact and gave me flashbacks to living in Morocco:…the man with the boxer's nose unsheathed his knife, broke off a piece of greenish substance as fat as half a date-stone, and reduced it into sticky atoms with a patience, a sad, sardonic forbearance, that made Rachid tremble….(This could be Paul Bowles.) And then again, a few pages later, a reference to ‘the shy Morse code of the cicadas’ which stopped me dead with delight, even though I had no idea what was going on at that point in the story. The climax of the book is a description of the Sétif massacre, which in terms of linear narrative is about the first thing that happens but which is not actually described until near the end. The final couple of sections loop back to the beginning to make the novel circular, and I was amazed to find myself considering flipping back to the start to re-read the opening passages which I had hated so much the first time around.This is a really confused review, isn't it? I can't give it more than two stars because it just wasn't enjoyable or engaging enough – but by the end it had succeeded in convincing me that it was quite an important book in its own way. Other Algerian writers consider Nedjma the foundation-stone of Algerian writing in French, and although I can't really recommend it I can easily imagine some people getting obsessed by it: it has that drugged, visionary quality.(By the way, I'd really like to write a book in which the heroine of this meets up with the heroine of André Breton's novel to have Mexican food in the city of Niamey. You could call it Nedjma and Nadja eat nachos in Niger.)

Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed

by

3.94 rating

Comment 1: This book is getting its four-star for the material AFTER the first couple chapters, because it's only then that it takes up, in some real and more interesting detail, its really important subject matter. The authors' research and expertise is clearly best-suited to cover from about the 70s on, and the depth they get to when doing so is fantastic- every major killing, they're ably dissecting the story behind the official story. Every major permutation in youth sentiment, they're citing major mus Comment 2: The prose is very, very dull--not difficult to read, but just an effort. But the book is such a great telling of Algeria's recent history that I'm willing to overlook the writing. If you're interested, and you should be, you should read this book. Know, however, that the early chapters are the weakest (incredibly broad history of the distant, distant past... very broad history of the colonial past... not very enlightening). But after decolonization things really pick up, and it's a disturbing, b Comment 3: A well-written, compelling survey of Algeria's violent 90s nestled within a broader argument about the Algerian war's political, cultural, and economic legacy. The sometimes polemical tone did not bother me until the last major chapter, when a few errors cast doubt on the soundness of the research, at least with respect to the period after 2011. Regardless, the coverage of the 90s, and the interweaving of historical events with cultural, artistic, and sociological context was very nice.

Wolf Dreams

by

3.77 rating

Comment 1: so far, i think this was the only book that has actually ever helped me open my eyes to so much of what's going on around me. i suddenly feel cheated and used for spending my 21 years living in a society and lead by a government where people think the solution for any problem is to just ignore it and pretend it's not happening or it never did. the only thing us born in the 90's ever know about this period of time is that there was something big that was happening back then, but no one's ever bothered to tell us and teach us how much bigger than that the tragedy was, how it wasn't just one little contained complication, but something that was happening on an immense scale, something that was interconnected with the people and their daily lives and, most importantly, something that was for them as much an inner battle as an open field one.this "moral" goes beyond the chronological framework of the novel, like how people in our country would criticize tv channels for discussing issues like rape, domestic violencen, and other social injustices because it's "disrespectful" or "impolite", because yeah that's what matters right? not the fact that these things are really happening and no one's doing anything about them! or how we're being taught in school about the western sahara and palestine like they're legimate states whereas it would be more logical\convenient to just teach us about the conflicts happening there and the true history of those areas.i could keep on citing other examples but i believe the only thing worse than living in a series of lies is having someone list them for you so i'm going to shut up for now. anyway, back to this book, thanks to it i'm going to open my eyes wide from now on, i'm going to try and annihilate this toxic ignorance and indifference that's been systematically cultivated within me\us against my\our will, i'm going to read and research and learn as much of what's been held back from me and sorry this isn't really a review for this story, this a personal pact, one which you should make with yourself as well if you ever bother to read this.

The Last Summer of Reason

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3.87 rating

Comment 1: So often it's cast as "us against them," a battle of cultures, West versus East, or even a "crusade," with all its loaded implications. For several reasons, Tahar Djaout's novel The Last Summer of Reason demonstrates the error of using such thinking when it comes to radical Islamists. In fact, it shows that the impact of and battle against fundamentalism is far from us versus them.[return][return]The Last Summer of Reason examines life from the viewpoint of Boualem Yekker, a bookseller in a republic modeled after Djaut's Algeria. Taliban-like fundamentalists called the "Vigilant Brotherhood" now control the government and the state. "Some men, citing divine will and legitimacy, decided to shape the world in the image of their dream and their madness," Boualem says. "Many citizens discovered that God could reveal a grisly face." The V.B.s have renamed the republic "the Community in the Faith." Its members "act as if they are in a new kind of western at which they play at collecting as many scalps of heathens and offenders of the laws of God as possible." Weather reports disappear because "how can one argue and quibble over patterns known only to God?"[return][return]Despite the resemblance to the Taliban, Djaout was writing amidst a civil war in the early 1990s between Algeria's military government and radical Islamists. He was murdered by an Islamic fundamentalist group in 1993. The unedited manuscript of The Last Summer of Reason was found among his papers after his death. It was published without editorial change, leaving modern readers to wonder if he would have elaborated on the tale rather than leave it as a slim, almost vignette-like phillipic.[return][return]First published posthumously in French, the language in which it was written, in 1999, the book made its first U.S. appearance in January 2001. While it, of course, drew more attention with the advent of September 11, 2001, the book demonstrates the serious concern that existed among secular or mainstream Muslims about radical Islamists more than a decade ago. Yet it also shows seeming prescience on Djaout's part. Although the Taliban did not take control of the Afghan government until three years after Djaout's death, the book resounds more now because of them. He even describes V.B. members manning roadblocks as being "rigged out like Afghan warriors" and that some of the clothing worn by V.B. members being called "Afghans," reflecting that the mujahideen forces battling the Soviets in Afghanistan were grabbing the attention of the Muslim world.[return][return]The Last Summer of Reason unquestionably tends toward polemics at times. Still, Djaout's skills as a poet, novelist and journalist give us a pitiable yet endearing character who sees and experiences firsthand a variety of the ramifications of fundamentalist government -- restrictions on women, conversion of the education system into a vehicle to inculcate the young, the societal peer pressure to agree or at least conform, and a description of a demonstration that seems to take you in with the crowds.[return][return]Balance of review at http://prairieprogressive.com/?p=1073

Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio

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3.6 rating

Comment 1: It takes so many people to make this world. This thought came to me as I walking home one day from work. I was thinking about my neighbours and how all of us were so different and staying in the same apartment, living lives unknown to each other and the occasional bickering that would take place. It is almost like a universe – an apartment – Georges Perec immortalized this in his famous book: “Life: A User’s Manual” (which according to me everyone must read). From there, I would like to introduc Comment 2: Romanzo polifonico, in cui ciascun capitolo è dedicato ad uno dei personaggi che abitano nello stabile di Piazza Vittorio, o che lavorano e gravitano nel quartiere Esquilino. Ciascun capitolo è poi intervallato dagli appunti e dalle riflessioni di Amedeo, che viene così ad essere l'anello di congiunzione di ogni racconto. È un libro estremamente gradevole, scritto con un stile immediato e frizzante che, seppur fortemente stereotipato, affronta temi estremamente attuali, senza tuttavia andare a s Comment 3: What started off as a delightful collection of characters with their own set of prejudices soon turned into a repetition of one dimensional characters with frivolous problems. Amedeo, the lead character's diary entries are interspersed to give his side of the story and also to peel away the layers of his back story. The entries or wailings as he calls them are quite uninteresting as you get to the 2nd half of the book. There were some interesting characters and clever details in the beginning bu

The Forbidden Woman

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3.75 rating

Comment 1: Absolutely the perfect stereotype of French prose at its worse. The characters are overly sentimental to the point I found myself hating them all. The endless metaphores are exhausting. The few parts I liked about the socio-economic issues impacting Algeria are overshadowed by whining and chapter-long explanations for feeling melancholy.

Of Dreams and Assassins

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3.48 rating

Comment 1: This is a lovely, lyrical story, showing with heartbreaking depth the suffering of women under an oppressive regime. Mokeddem lived this life and her personal experience shows through. Kudos to the translator K. Melissa Marcus for her brilliant translation which resonates with the emotion and poetry of the original. Kenza is a damaged narrator who explores the pain of her life like a probe in an open wound. It's with relief, the reader follows her to some semblance of safety and the slight possibility of happiness. One caveat: in my edition there is a twenty-page introduction covering the history of Algeria, Mokeddem's life, and other literature of the diaspora. It's interesting, but read it at the end for context. I almost put the book away, because the introduction was so academic. Comment 2: Kenza heeft haar moeder nooit gekend en wordt bij haar vader, een enorme vrouwenversierder, opgevoed. Ze heeft een aantal halfbroers, groeit eenzaam op, gaat naar kostschool en krijgt een baan aan de universiteit van Oran. Maar Algerije is zo vrouwonvriendelijk, fundamentalistisch en gevaarlijk voor intellectuelen dat ze naar Frankrijk vlucht om het spoor van haar overleden moeder na te trekken. De auteur, dochter van nomaden in Algerije, is arts in Montpellier. Dit is haar vierde boek. Het them

In the Name of God

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3.67 rating

Comment 1: ياسمينة خضرا ؟!من ياسمينة ؟ ومن تكون ؟ ولما لم أسمع عنها من قبل ؟ لا يوجد حديث عن الكاتبة خلافاً للعادة التي جرى عليها الزمن و تفننت فيها دور النشر فأصبح قبل الكتاب عشرون صفحة لتعريف بالكاتب و أعماله وماذا قال الراحلون عنه .. أما ها هنا فلا توجد إلا صفحة يتيمة لتذكرة بأعمال تلك المجهولة !بعدما أنتهيت وقع ناظري ع معلومة بإن صاحب العمل هو كاتب وليس كاتبة .. غصة ملئت حلقي و سدت بلعومي .. أأكون امام " أمل دنقل " جديد ؟ !أهو كاتب حقاً أم كاتبة .. رجل أم ياسمينة ؟ إلا إني توصلت أن الكتاب يرجع للكاتب الجزائري " محمد مولسهول " وأن ياسمينة خضرا هي الأسم المستعار له .. أعجبني ذلك .. طيب ؟نعود للكتاب .. نعود لخرفان المولى !أولاً ..الكاتب عرض الكبوة التاريخية التي عانت منها الجزائر طويلاً من منظور - في البداية - دفعني لمواصلة الرواية ؛ وكُلي أمل في أني وجدت مصدر يتسم بالحيادية مغلف برداء روائي في وصف النكبة ..ولكن ماذا وجدت ؟!وصلت للنهاية بدون الحصول على مبتغاي ، فلم أجد الحيادية في وصف تلك الحقبة من تاريخ الجزائر بين ثنايا هذه الروآية و ﻵ أدري ما حجة المؤلف في ذلك ..في البدء كان الجميع متساوون .. سرعان ما بدأ الكاتب في تغليب معسكر ع معسكر آخر من خلال عرض قضايا أخلاقية تُرجح وجهة نظر الكاتب .. ضارباً الحائط بعقلية القارئ ..متناسياً واجبه كا كاتب .. لن أخوض في تلك النقطة كثيراً .. يكفي هذا ..ثانياً ..اللغة رائعة .. تأخذك الجملة لتسلمك لجارتها وهكذا حتى تصدم بالورقة الأخيرة ..الأسلوب كان بسيطاً و الرواية رغم أن النص الأصلي فرنسي إلا إنك لا تشعر بهذا .. تشعر بإنها كُتبت ب عربية معاصرة ، أعجبني الوصف وجذبني حتى ما قمتُ إلا بعدما أنتهيت منها ظافراً بالصفحة الاخيرة كنتُ أحتفل .. لم يكدر صفوي سوى العشوائية في ترتيب احداث الرواية في بعض الفصول .

Fantasia: An Algerian Cavalcade

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3.64 rating

Comment 1: The way Djebar grapples with her French/Algerian identity in this book shows itself through the form. Carefully crafted in all its parts - she plays with ways of historicizing and organizing information. One just has to remember that some of the narrative is, in the end, overwhelmingly in her perspective. Still a lovely way to humanize the experience of the French conquest of Algeria and the National Liberation movement.

Sahara Man: Travelling with the Tuareg

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4 rating

Comment 1: The author returned to Algeria after many years away and , I guess, went searching for ghosts of his past. He bumped into a younger man, Mokhtar, and they took a look at the Hoggar region together. It's a very simple story but it does give an insight into return and to making a new, and different, connection with a region.