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The ultimate guide to Algerian crime fiction

Crime, together with actions defined as criminal, are very much at the forefront of debates in Algeria at the moment. Over the course of the peaceful nationwide protests that began in February, a worrying number of women and men who have marched bearing the Amazigh flag on Fridays have been arrested. These arrests, reported to have started in June, initially dealt pre-trial detentions with release, eventually, on no charge. Soon however, the number of arrests increased, and releases were replaced with trial dates. For the State, displaying the Amazigh flag is an “attack on national unity”: that is to say, a crime. On Monday November 12, the trial of 42 women and men arrested on this charge began. The results of that day’s deliberations were pronounced in the night, with announcements the following morning leading to a national outcry. Twenty-one of those examined were handed similar sentences: 12 months jail term, with 6 months suspended, in addition to a 30,
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1973 Crime Fiction - D. Contre-Attaque by Abdelaziz Lamrani

    On August 5 1973 , Algeria's National Publication House (the SNED ) released 'D. Counter-Attacks' (D. contre-attaque) by Abdelaziz Lamrani, a detective novel at the crossroad of spy fiction and murder mystery. D. Counter-Attacks is a typical spy novel of the 1970s (typical for Algeria): two Algerian agents, Samyr and Tarek, are sent by Algeria's secret services to Spain, in order to thwart the plans of zionists. Fighting against zionism is a big topic in Algerian crime fiction of the early to mid 1970s that also features multilingual alpha males flexing their muscles and women swooning. The investigation is fast-pasted, pan-Arabist in spirit, thoroughly mysoginistic, and ends in an odd and long rant about men having to pay the restaurant bill. If you're in the right mood, it's hilarious.   In 1973, detective novels produced in Algeria were recent in the country's publication history. Four novels by Youcef Khader (the pseudony

1967 Crime Fiction - Ahmed Chenouf-Boudi

While looking for the earliest crime fiction novel I could possibly find published by an Algerian novelist and/or in Algeria, I came across the name of Ahmed Chenouf-Boudi. Chenouf-Boudi, a journalist from Batna, is known to have published a number of crime/spy short stories in the newspaper An-Nasr in 1967, and from 1968 in the newspaper Algérie Actualités. Unfornutately no national archive holds these weeklies, and none of his stories was published in book format. Perhaps that one day, I'll find a copy of either papers and will be able to read and publish the stories, but in the meantime here is what we know. Chenouf-Boudi published a short story recounting an investigation. The title is ' Le fellah, l'ex-tirailleur et le commissaire politique ' (The Fellah, the ex-skirmisher, and the political commander), published in An-Nasr, on 20 septembre 1967 et 7 octobre 1967. When this newspaper first appeared, it was produced in French, it moved to Arabic a few ye

Mohammed Dib's Centenary - A tour of the author's work

Today marks the centenary of Mohammed Dib who was born on 21 July 1920 in Tlemcen. Dib is one of the most successful and recognisable voices of Algerian literature, and one of its most prolific . Dib's first novels and short stories changed the fiction spectrum with their depiction of the everyday life of Algerians and the oppressive conditions of French colonisation - daring themes at the time. Dib's first novel, La Grande Maison (The Great House) published in 1952 by Le Seuil editions (France) was received with acclaim by readers and the literary community for the beauty of Dib's writing as much as for the novel's theme. Conversely and unsurprisingly, it was received with much anguish by the French authorities given the content. This first novel was to be part of a trilogy, the second volume of which, L'Incendie (The Fire), appeared in 1954 as the war of independence was declared. The third and final volume Le Métier à tisser (The Loom) was released in 1

Behind the mirror - Baya Mahieddine's first art exhibition

Le grand zoiseau by Baya 1985 The painter and sculptor Baya Mehieddine, born Fatima Haddad on 12 December 1931 (Bordj el Kiffan), is best remembered as a self-taught artist, and a surrealist, who marked her time (and ours still) with her bold depictions of animals and women in gouache. But little do we know her as a writer (see below). Baya's first exhibition was held when she was very young, sixteen years of age, in November 1947 at the Galerie Maeght in Paris. To publicise and celebrate the event, a leaflet in eight-sheets was produced, and it so happened that I found a hard copy (!). It is available here as a PDF . The leaflet is a true gem: it contains six lithographies by Baya, and rarer still, there is a short story by her called 'Le Grand Zoiseau' (difficult to translate, it means 'the big bird' but it is written phonetically in the way children pronounce 'bird' in French and mistake the singular for the plural). The title is known but a

Cri (Scream) by Ismael Ait Djafer

( portrait of the artist made by M'hammed Issiakhem in Bouchene's 1987 edition of the poems ) Ismael Ait Djafer is an Algerian poet and caricaturist known for two gut-wrenching long compositions ' Complainte des mendiants arabes de la Casbah et de la petite Yasmina tuée par son père ' (published in 1950) and ' Cri ' (possibly composed in 1964, and published in 1987, and 1998). 'Cri' is pratically impossible to find nowadays, so to honour the poet's memory, and to try to keep his work in circulation his poem 'Cri', in the edition published by Novelte Massalia in 1998, is made available here as a pdf ( DOWNLOAD ). The whole book (with both poems) is downloadable here . The edition features a profile of the poet by Nadia Idjouadienne, a preface by Yacine Kateb, and two drawings by Ait Djafer.    Ismael Ait Djafer was born on 1 March 1929 in the Casbah, Algiers, where he was raised. A timid, gent

List: Moroccan Literature in English (and) Translation

Moroccan Literature in English (and) Translation Many readers and bookshops organise their book piles, shelves and readings by country, loosely defined as the author’s country of origin, or of where the story takes place. It’s an approach to fiction I always found odd and enjoyable. There is a special kind of enjoyment to be had by sticking to the fiction of a place and concentrating on it for a while. The pleasure I derive from this may simply be due to my myopia, and the habit it brings of frowning at a single point until a clear picture emerges, but as others engage in the same, and comforted by a crowd, it’s a habit I pursue and which is now taking me to Morocco. This journey, I make accompanied by a list of Moroccan literature in English, that is, translated fiction or literature written originally in English. It is shared below for the curious and fellow addicts. I could say that my tendency to focus on a country is how the construction of the list began, but that w