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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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4. Emigration


4Emigration Introduction Emigration to France and other European countries has been a basic reality of life for Algerians, Moroccans, and Tunisians since the beginning of the twentieth cen- tury. There is no town or hamlet in those countries that has not seen some of its inhabitants leave their homeland in hope of a better life—or adventure. Maghre- ban emigration to France began in the first decade of the twentieth century— at the end of the nineteenth century in the case of Algerians—but the number of emigrants before 1945 was relatively small. From the end of World War II until 1974, with the expansion of the economy in Western Europe, Maghrebans began leaving their countries in increasingly larger numbers with the blessing and encouragement of the French government and business leaders. Like most European emigrants to the United States at the turn of the twenti- eth century, the majority of the early Maghreban emigrants to France were mainly from a peasant background; they were poor, ill-equipped, and illiterate, and thus, susceptible to exploitation. They were engaged in semiskilled or unskilled occupa- tions: in construction all over the country, mining in the north and in Normandy, steel in the Lorraine region, textile in Lyon, and manufacturing in the industrial complex of the Paris region. Most of the first emigrants went to France to work, 234 | Algerian Literature not to put down roots. They wanted to go back home as soon as they earned enough money to pay their debts, buy...

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