Skip to main content

Intrigue at Sidi Fredj by Khaled Mandi - Book Review

It's the end of the day, and a taxieur last fare forgets her bag in the car. Next morning, he goes back to the address to return the bag to the woman. For this, he doesn’t expect to spend seven months in jail.

It was not Mourad's unsuspicious nature that sent him to El Harrach’s 7 Hectares jail, it was the unpretentious belief he’d been struck by love at first sight by Farida as he drove her to her parents’ home. Farida, though, had been murdered 18 months previously, and had long been buried. 

While investigating a crime that wasn’t one, and a murder that never took place, Mourad discovers that Farida is in fact Ghislaine, a twin born in Algeria and stolen away by a gang trafficking babies just before Algeria’s independence.

In Intrigue at Sidi Fredj, Khaled Mandi tells a tale in an Enid-Blyton-style that plays with djinns, ghosts, folklore, the reality of jail life, inmates’ solidarity and a crushing Algerian justice system.

Should Mandi have closed the story after Mourad discovers a pre-independence child trafficking gang? Yup. So far so great despite the writing’s school-like style. But Mourad can't stop and rest, Mandi forces his character to continue hunting for his love at first sight, to avoid marrying his cousin. And this is when the story becomes the reenactment of a bizarre teenage wet dream. Mourad decides to work 2 years flat to buy enough foreign currency and a visa to France so he can find a (very) accommodating French girlfriend and move in her bed, in the space of a 12-hour conversation on Christmas eve to marry her papers

Should Mandi have closed the story after Mourad comes back to Algeria with his new bride and finally marries her according to the 'proper' rites and a massive party to celebrate his catch? Yup. But Mandi continues with two anecdotes, one when Mourad is going to the local Imam because his French-but-Algerian wife doesn't want to fast, and another by Mandi's grandfather (why?) about life's scars and how they can save lives.

Should Mandi have closed the story after these two anecdotes that have nothing to do with why you picked up the book in the first place? Yup. But Mandi clearly loves writing and in the height of enjoyment he just can't stop. He continues on with a summary of his next novel's first and second part plus three axis quotes.

If you decide to read Intrigue at Sidi Fredj, do, it’s quite enjoyable, just stop of page 102.

Intrigue a Sidi Fredj is a book by Khaled Mandi published by Editions Mazola Communication in 2012, written in French. 160 pages.


Popular posts from this blog

"Kan darbe yaadatani, isa gara fuula dura itti yaaddu" (Oromo proverb)

"By remembering the past, the future is remembered". These notes are taken from Mengesha Rikitu's research on "Oromo Folk Tales for a new generation" by (see also his "Oromo Proverbs" and "Oromo Grammar"). Some proverbs are folk tales are worth the detour: 1) Oromo Proverb – Harreen yeroo alaaktu malee, yeroo dhuudhuuftu hin'beektu   "The Donkey doesn't know that it is farting again and again when it is braying." (ie some people concentrating on their own verbosity are unaware of what is going on behind them) You can tell that dhuudhuuftu is the farting can't you, am betting on the sound that word makes. Oromifa is one of the five most widely spoken (Afroasiatic) languages in Africa. Its importance lies in the numbers of its speakers and in its geographical extent. The 'official' numbers point to 30 million Oromo speakers (but there has not been to this day a complete or reliable census). The majority

Moufdi Zakaria - The Algerian Ilyad

I am over the moon to have found a PDF version of the original Algerian Ilyad by the great Algerian war poet Moufdi Zakaria. As it is the original version, it is in Arabic HERE (thanks to, a fantastic e-resource for old books, you should check it out).  You can access the book in other formats too HERE . The Algerian Iliad - إلياذة الجزائـر  -  l' Iliade algé rienne  is a 1,000 line poem retracing Algeria's history in great historical details.  Throughout, Cheikh Zakaria recounts all the names that have shapped the Algeria's history. He goes through all the regions' history and their greatest most emblematic figures. This poem is so valuable and beautiful.  It should be on the curriculum of any Arabic and history cursus in Algeria.  Perhaps it is and/or you know this poem? Who is Cheikh Moufdi Zakaria? Well, on 5th of July, three days from now, Algeria will celebrate 50 years of independence. A tremendous poem was composed during

A 1969 copy of Nedjma by Kateb Yacine, illustrated with 9 painting by Issiakhem

  M'hamed Issiakhem seems to have regularly illustrated the work of writers who were his contemporaries. His portrait of Malek Haddad opens the latter's poetry collection ‘ Le malheur en danger ’ (Misfortune in Danger) published by Bouchène editions in 1988:     And the edition of Ismael Ait Djafer's long poem 'The complaint' also published by Bouchene, in 1987, contain Issiakhem's portrait of the poet.     (Photo trouvée sur Albatroz Blog4ever ) Copies of Le malheur en danger are almost impossible to find except in specialised universty libraries so i scanned it here and it can be downloaded as a PDF here . The edition of La complainte by Ait Djafer is no longer in circulation, so I scanned it also, click on the link for a PDF of the copy . I couldn't find a resonably priced copy of the Bouchene edition, but the edition I have and which is placed online here is by Novetlé Massalia and it contains Aït Djafer's second long poem called 'Cri’