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Writing in the Aftermath of Two Wars: Algerian Modernism and the Génération ’88

Writing in the Aftermath of Two Wars: Algerian Modernism and the Génération ’88

Chapter:
(p.123) Writing in the Aftermath of Two Wars: Algerian Modernism and the Génération ’88
Source:
Algeria
Author(s):
Corbin Treacy
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781786940216.003.0007

Algerian literary works from the civil war of the 1990s are often described as testimonial—a littérature d’urgence. While the label ignores many experimental and anti-representational works from this period, the décennie noire clearly weighed on authors and provoked particular aesthetic responses. Less has been said of Algerian cultural production from the years following the civil war. Algerian writers have started to leverage fantasy, myth, and the fable to respond to the increasingly surreal relationship between state and society. This article addresses the shift from realism to surrealism in contemporary Algerian fiction, with special attention to the ways in which less representational texts more fully adumbrate the particularities of the Bouteflika era. Specifically, I focus on works by Mustapha Benfodil and Kamel Daoud, two authors born after independence who continue to live, write, and publish in Algeria. Their affiliation with Éditions Barzakh—an independent Algerian publisher — has granted their work the freedom to deviate from the proscribed narratives of terrorism and victimhood more common to Algeria’s export literature. I argue that Daoud and Benfodil create alternative forms of literary engagement that articulate a revised Algerian nationalism, plotting paths to futures beyond the limiting terms of the static present.

Keywords:   Kamel Daoud, Mustapha Benfodil, Civil War, Algerian literature in French, Barzakh publishing house

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