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Beyond France-Algeria: The Algerian Novel and the Transcolonial Imagination

Beyond France-Algeria: The Algerian Novel and the Transcolonial Imagination

Chapter:
(p.222) Beyond France-Algeria: The Algerian Novel and the Transcolonial Imagination1
Source:
Algeria
Author(s):
Olivia C. Harrison
Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781786940216.003.0012

More than any other literary genre, the Algerian novel has been read as a response to Algeria’s colonial past and as a proving ground for the articulation of a postcolonial national identity. From Kateb Yacine’s anticolonial allegory Nedjma to Kamal Daoud’s attempt to grapple with the legacies of Orientalism in Meursault, contre-enquête, the Algerian novel seems to be caught in a dialectical relationship with the former colonizer, France. Or is it? After a brief survey of post-independence Maghrebi texts that look to other colonial sites, in particular Palestine, to actualize anticolonial critique in the postcolonial period, I examine a series of Algerian novels that activate what I call the transcolonial imagination, connecting heterogenous (post)colonial sites in a critical and comparative exploration of coloniality. Through readings of novels by Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Anouar Benmalek, Yasmina Khadra, and Rachid Boudjedra, I show that the contemporary Algerian novel continues to excavate traces of the colonial, broadly conceived, in the purportedly postcolonial present, casting the Palestinian question, the post-9/11 war on terror, and the 2010-2011 uprisings within a multidirectional and palimpsestic history of the colonial condition writ large.

Keywords:   Transcolonial Imagination, Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Anouar Benmalek, Yasmina Khadra, Rachid Boudjedra, Algerian literature, Arab Spring, Palestine

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