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Brilliant French: Language Algerian Novels

     Actually, because of the French conquest in 1830, Algerians learned the French language (French policy during its colonialism) and used it as a medium to claim their rights. By 1920’s the first French language Algerian novels begun to appear like : Abdelkader Hadj Hamou’s La Femme du Mineur (Minor’s Wife).In 1952 and continuing through the Algerian independence war (1954-1962),there was a proliferation of French-language Algerian novels that discuss the difficulty or the impossibility of becoming fully assimilated into the occidental universe(France).

    Mouloud  Mammeri is a well-known pioneer of the Algerian novel, even if he did not write a lot because he devoted much of his time to teaching work and struggling to preserve the Berber language and culture. The four novels that he wrote correspond to three major events in the history of the Algerian society: French colonialism in La Colline Oubliée (The Forgotten Hill) and Le sommeil du Juste (The Righteous Sleep) which describes the impossibility of assimilation; the country struggling for independence in L’Opium et le Baton (Opium and Stick) (1965); the disenchantment of the post-independence era in La Traverse (The Crossing) (1982).

     Kateb Yacine’s Nedjma(Star) was published in 1956.This symbolic novel expresses the Algerians’ quest for identity and their struggle for liberty. Also, Malek Haddad published  novels; La Dernière Impression (The Last Impression) (1958); tells the story of a family that was profoundly affected by the onset of the Algerian war. L’élève et la Leçon (The Student and the Lesson)(1960) in which the protagonist (a doctor) is angry with himself for being in France (The Algerian Enemy),and Le Quai aux Fleurs ne Répond Plus (The Flower Dock Doesn’t Respond)(1961).In addition to Mohamed Dib who wrote dozens of novels such as, Qui se Souvient de la Mer?(Who Remembers the Sea)(1962),La Grande Maison (The Big House), L’Incendie ( The Fire) ,Le Métier a Tisser (The Weaving Loom) .In his literary works, he attempts to illustrate how difficult it is for those not born in exile to live in it.

      During the post –independence , Rachid Boudjedra’s novel La Repudiation(The Repudiation)(1981) was published .He wrote  Le Désordre des Choses( The Disorder of Things)(1991),Le Démantélement(the dismantlement)(1982) which focuses on a main character who remains faithful to his own values and identity . The other Algerian novelist is Mimoni who wrote Le Fleuve Détourné (Detoured River) (1982) L’Honneur de la Tribu ( Honor of the Tribe)((1989) and Une Peine à Vivre (A Pain to Live)(1991) .In his works, he denounces social failures and the disillusionments of independence.

     In 1984, Tahar Djaout’s Les Chercheurs d’Os (Bone Researchers) was published in Paris in this novel young people undertake a search for what was left for the scattered bones of those who had disappeared during the war of independence. L’Invention du Desert (The Invention of the Desert (1987).In addition to Mouloud Feraoun’s Le Fils du Pauvre (The Son of the Poor) and La Terre et le Sang (The Earth and the Blood).

     There have been just few women novelists in Algeria .Belonging to the generation of the 1950’s, like Assia Djebar’s Les Enfants du Nouveau Monde (The Children of the New World) (1962), Les Alouettes Naives (The Naïve Larks) (1967).Her novels discuss the condition of the women who were deprived of voice in patriarchal society .They also recount contemporary Algerian history, as in L’Amour, la Fantasia (The Love, the Fantasia) (1985).

    It is very important to highlight that there are many other prominent writers that I did not mention, and truly all these literary works, which are mentioned above, are very valuable masterpieces that teach us a great deal about the Algerian society and history.

written by ARAB Sabrina


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