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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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While starting as a subdivision of Francophone literature whose study was lim- ited to French departments in colleges and universities, Algerian literature1 has during the last thirty years received increasing scholarly attention in and outside those departments due to the recognition of its quality, the revision of the literary canon, and the growing interest in world literature. Despite this attraction, however, a comprehensive introduction to the subject that also showcases Algerian writings is nonexistent. Indeed, although antholo- gies that include selections from Algerian writings and several studies of specific authors and themes are available, none of them is adequate.2 First, the studies are 1. For the purpose of this book, Algerians are native Tamazight and Arabic speakers as well as writers of European descent who fought for the independence of Algeria, among whom are Jean Sénac, Anna Gréki, Henri Kréa, Emmanuel Roblès, and Annie Steiner. 2. There are three anthologies that include translations from Algerian works: Kaye, J. (Ed.). (1992). Maghreb: New writing from North Africa. York, England: Talus Editions; Joris, P., & Tengour, H. (Eds.). Poems for the new millennium. Berkeley: University of California Press; and Ortzen, L. (1986) North African writing. London: Heinemann. xviii | Algerian Literature too specialized for the uninitiated; second, most anthologies are out of date, do not include Algerian writers in the right proportions, or do not provide a map of themes and authors; and finally, studies and anthologies alike focus almost exclusively on literature in French.3 While it is true that...

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