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Algerian Literature

A Reader’s Guide and Anthology


Abdelkader Aoudjit

The only up-to-date and comprehensive text and reader of Algerian literature available in English, Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology offers the reader a historical and critical overview of the literature from the early twentieth century to the present, introduces Algerian authors, and provides selections from a wide range of their writings, many translated here for the first time. It begins with an overview chapter that charts the evolution of Algerian literature and puts it in its proper historical context, followed by five thematic chapters: decolonization and cultural affirmation, the War of Independence, modernization and its discontents, emigration, and history. The chapters begin with introductions on the themes under discussion and the selections are preceded by biographies of the authors, as well as detailed summaries of the larger works from which they are extracted. Finally, each chapter concludes with a bibliography and sources for readers seeking additional information and insight.

The selections included in Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology have been carefully chosen to reflect the richness and diversity of Algerian literature. Accordingly, they are extracted from various literary genres: novels, plays, and poems. Furthermore, they are from works that belong to different literary movements: realism, modernism, and postmodernism.

The variety and the outstanding quality of the selections, along with the superb introductions, summaries, and biographies make Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology an ideal text for courses in Algerian, Francophone, and world literature courses. It will also be of interest to general readers outside the classroom who want to broaden their literary horizons.

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. In an earlier work by Aoudjit, The Algerian Novel and Colonial Discourse, he applies Jean-François Lyotard’s concept of the différend to a number of twentieth-century Algerian writers. The Norton Anthology of World Literature includes, regrettably, only one author from Algeria, Albert Camus. Its emphasis is on Camus as a “philosopher of the absurd” (2571), unlike Aoudjit’s treatment of Algerian authors that emphasizes “the aspect of witnessing to a différend, which is to challenge the hegemony of the dominant discourse and give voice to previously marginalized groups” (5). In his new book, Aoudjit introduces authors that the English speaking reader might not be familiar with, like Dib, Boudjedra, Mammeri, Feraoun, Kateb, Djebar and others. It is this aspect of Aoudjit’s work that will be of interest to the general reader or the student who has taken a course in world literature, and to whom I highly recommend Aoudjit’s reader’s guide and anthology. An additional distinctive feature of Aoudjit’s book is his own translations of some selections from Algerian authors. Lastly, an important contribution that Aoudjit makes is his reassessment of the Algerian literature ← xiii | xiv → in the Algerian Literature: A Reader’s Guide and Anthology based on a rethinking of history. Chapter 6 emphasizes “one-dimensional, hegemonic, and simplistic readings of history that obscure and suppress important elements of the past are dangerous.” Aoudjit goes on to explain how a number of Algerian authors used narrative techniques of what Linda Hutcheon calls “historiographic metafiction” to “reexamine familiar narratives of Algerian...

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