The Lovers of Algeria

by Anouar BELMALEK

Translated by Joanna Kilmartin

276 pages

Published by Graywolf Press in 2004

THIS BOOK COUNTS FOR THE FOLLOWING READING CHALLENGES

         

   

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

I hesitated reading a book about Algeria, because I know of so many real horror stories that happened there. But trying to follow the Middle East Reading Challenge, I had to dare.

Wow, that was quite a book! Very heart-breaking with beautiful human characters focused on loving, come what may, with in the background yes the all too common horror stories and what’s going on there: terrorism, relationships between white people and natives, government corruption, dealings between Algerian and French governments.

I loved the characters, the relationships between the couple, and between Anna and the child Jallal. The writing is beautiful. I wished my library had more books by this author, but they don’t!

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

A breathless story of love and survival in war-torn Algeria-past and present.
The devil has entered our country, and his footprints are everywhere.

Nine-year-old Jallal is old enough to know that his life in Algeria is precarious at best. Having run away from home, he survives by selling peanuts and single cigarettes on the street. The proposal by the elderly Swiss woman named Anna is shocking and preposterous: go to the mountains with her, as a translator, so she can find her lost lover from decades ago and pray over the graves of their murdered children.

Anna and Jallal’s journey is wrought with danger and unspeakable tragedy. It was under similar circumstances that Anna first met the Arab Nasreddine. Ousted from the traveling circus where she performed as a trapeze artist, she had little choice but to accept Nasreddine’s dangerous offer to live with him in a makeshift tent. But it was here, amid poverty, racism, and terrifyingly random violence, that they fell in love.

A best seller in France, The Lovers of Algeria is an unflinchingly candid story about a country where terrorism and government corruption are commonplace. As Anna and Nasreddine, beaten by time and memory, circle each other in Algeria, Anouar Benmalek shows with heart-wrenching detail that love can endure even the most inhuman conditions. [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Anouar Benmalek was born on January 16, 1956 in Casablanca. He is a French-speaking Franco-Algerian writer, poet, and journalist. A mathematician by training, he lives in France, where he teaches at the Faculty of Pharmacy, University Paris-Sud. Described as the “Mediterranean Faulkner ” by a French newspaper (L’Express) and compared to Camus by the prestigious journal Harvard Review, his name has sometimes been cited in the list of writers who could possibly win the Nobel prize of literature.

You can check his impressive list of works here.

His website has trailers, interviews, etc, in French.

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