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eBook The Lovers of Algeria: A Novel (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)) download

by Joanna Kilmartin,Anouar Benmalek

eBook The Lovers of Algeria: A Novel (Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)) download ISBN: 155597404X
Author: Joanna Kilmartin,Anouar Benmalek
Publisher: Graywolf Press (August 1, 2004)
Language: English
Pages: 288
ePub: 1288 kb
Fb2: 1990 kb
Rating: 4.5
Other formats: doc azw mobi lit
Category: Literature
Subcategory: Literary

This book was a bestseller in France, where it was awarded the Prix Rahid.

This book was a bestseller in France, where it was awarded the Prix Rahid. With a poetic but light-handed translation by Joanna Kilmartin, a more modest but admiring reception here should be expected. The Lovers of Algeria follows a star-crossed couple-Anna, a Swiss acrobat who initially travels to Algeria in the early 1940s, and Nassreddine, an Algerian man-through most of the 20th century.

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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 first chapter of The Lovers of Algeria is set in an Algiers cemetery in the mid-’90s . In The Lovers of Algeria, a terrorist who has just cut three prisoners’ throats justifies the killing because the army did far worse when it tortured his innocent father to death with a blowtorch. It’s a historical novel but a modern book, Benmalek told me. Too modern, apparently, for Algeria, where right now it’s almost impossible to discuss the place of religion in society. The novel will not be published there anytime soon.

The Lovers of Algeria. Anouar Benmalek; Translated from the French by Joanna Kilmartin. A best seller in France, The Lovers of Algeria is an unflinchingly candid story about a country where terrorism and government corruption are commonplace

The Lovers of Algeria. download cover image. Fiction should never be a kind of political wish fulfullment, but when scripted powerfully, it can imagine the impossible. 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. A Lannan Translation Series Selection.

A best seller in France, The Lovers of Algeria is an unflinchingly candid story about a country where terrorism and .

A best seller in France, The Lovers of Algeria is an unflinchingly candid story about a country where terrorism and government corruption are commonplace.

Anouar Benmalek, Joanna Kilmartin (Translator). Marjatta Ecare (translator).

Book Format: Paperback . Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback).

For unknown reasons, most men at that very moment give off important information about their true nature

For unknown reasons, most men at that very moment give off important information about their true nature. ate conversation on a very different subject altogether, could say: You should know I’m not an easy man to live with. Or: I can be such an asshole at times.

A Lannan Translation Selection. Funding the translation and publication of exceptional literary works. Supported by a translation grant from the Nordic Council of Ministers. Published by Graywolf Press. 250 Third Avenue North, Suite 600. Minneapolis, Minnesota 55401. Published in the United States of America. ISBN 978-1-55597-665-1. Ebook ISBN 978-1-55597-085-7.

A breathless story of love and survival in war-torn Algeria-past and presentThe 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.

A Lannan Translation Series Selection

Comments: (6)
Worla
This one was a pleasant surprise. It's not great literature, but it proved to be an enjoyable story with some redeeming social value, and my expectations were not high (you just never know with obscure translations).

The Lovers of Algeria follows a star-crossed couple--Anna, a Swiss acrobat who initially travels to Algeria in the early 1940s, and Nassreddine, an Algerian man--through most of the 20th century. The timeline jumps back and forth, and while I was at first annoyed when I'd been reading about the 1990s, reached page 90 (where it jumps to the 1920s) and realized most of the rest of the book was backstory, it actually works out pretty well and turned out to be a more compelling story than I expected. The characters themselves are all right--adequate for their roles, and there's some complexity to their relationships (the central romance is imperfect), but they're not especially memorable.

Aside from telling a good story, this book is most memorable for its portrayal of the upheaval and violence in 20th century Algeria--a country struggling with first colonialism, then terrorism, not to mention poverty and a lack of resources to deal with its problems. It's from the perspective of average people, so it doesn't provide a high-level explanation of policy; instead we get an on-the-ground view of what life is like for civilians just struggling to get by amidst the instability and violence. And Benmalek manages to do this without being simplistic or too sentimental; the world of the book feels three-dimensional. It's an ugly place, so readers just looking for romance may want to skip this one, but it gives real beyond-the-headlines insight into what people caught between terrorists and an ineffective government have to deal with.

While I found it a worthwhile read, though, and sped through most of it in a single day, there were a lot of little annoyances that together bring it down to 3 stars. The timeline doesn't add up (Anna apparently ran off with the circus four years before she was born). The use of the present tense is inconsistent, and even more jarring in a book that jumps back and forth in time. There are a lot of exclamation points in the narration, and sometimes it's unclear who is speaking. Benmalek obsessively describes women's sexual characteristics, even when writing from their own perspectives. The ending almost seems to be missing a paragraph or two--it just ends, without telling us what the characters plan to do next.

And, perhaps most unfortunate of all, two or three major character decisions struck me as terribly implausible. For instance, Anna and Nassreddine's relationship begins with a contrived romance-novel-style scenario, in which even though he's a virtual stranger and she has no intention of having a sexual relationship, she decides to leave the circus and move into his one-room hut (just the two of them) so she can be available for a friend. Um, right.

That said, if you can put up with a few eyebrow-raising scenarios, it is an engaging story, and the translation is fluidly written. Recommended for those interested in learning more about Algeria, or those who love decades-long odds-defying love stories.
Xar
It’s the war for Independence by the Arabs against France in the 1950’s. That’s a bad time for a French-Swiss woman, a circus acrobat, to fall in love with and marry an Arab man. They will both be under suspicion and hated by both side in the conflict. (I’m reminded of another book I reviewed, The Painter of Battles by Arturo Perez-Reverte, where a Serbian-Croatian couple doesn’t survive the Serb-Croat conflict). And of course it happens: he is captured and tortured by the French under suspicion of Arab terrorism (even though he was not involved in the conflict). Their two children are brutally killed and she is deported from Algeria. Assuming her husband is dead, like her children, she flees back to Europe, begins a new life, remarries and has a son.

That’s where our story begins. Years later, the woman, now a widow in her sixties with an adult son, returns to Algeria; back to the on-going unrest. It’s unsafe for women, especially a European woman traveling alone. Is she insane? she asks herself. She tells her son that she is vacationing in Egypt. She seeks out her former husband to find out if he is dead or alive. She dons a burka as a disguise and finds a partner to help her navigate the conflict and the rural villages – a ten-year old street urchin with whom she develops a grandmotherly relationship. Translated from the French; lots of local color of rural and urban Algeria, and a good read.
Phallozs Dwarfs
Opening in 1955, when the French are battling insurgents for control of Algeria, Anna, a Swiss resident and former circus performer, and Nassreddine, a Berber from the mountains of Algeria, travel by bus from a remote mountain village to Algiers to formalize their marriage. As the bus makes its way through the countryside, it is stopped by French soldiers, and Nassreddine is arrested, taken to jail, and tortured unmercifully. Anna is forced to go on to the village without him, but when Nassreddine finally escapes and makes his way back, he finds his mother's house empty.

Alternating back and forth in time, author Benmalek traces the lives of Anna and Nassreddine and their parents, separately and together, for seventy years, in the process giving the political and social history of Algeria. Whether under the rule of the French in the 1950s or the Algerian Liberation Front (FLN), which defeated them, ordinary citizens live lives fraught with danger. Armed Islamic fundamentalists, which fought both the French and the Liberation Front for control of the population in the 1950s, have, by 1997 become a major force. Torture, murders, mutilations, and executions, for which the French were condemned, have continued into the 1990s.

Into this atmosphere of civil war in 1996, Anna, now in her sixties, returns to Algiers from Switzerland in search of Nassreddine. Hiring Jallal, a nine-year-old orphan who sells peanuts and individual cigarettes to act as a translator, and wearing a traditional haik, she is determined to make her way back to Nassreddine's home village, the place they had always agreed to use as their common contact point. Anna's story alternates with that of Nassreddine and moves back and forth in time as both try to reach the village.

This story of a great love that crosses boundaries is not for the faint of heart. As the lives of Anna and Nassreddine, Jallal (the boy-translator), their parents, and their friends come to life, the reader is exposed to unimaginable horrors. Though the novel is melodramatic, it is not melodrama for the sake of false emotion. Life in Algeria is tenuous at best, survival seems almost accidental, and everyone is a pawn of someone else. The ending will not satisfy all readers, but it is consistent with the demonstrated fragility of life throughout the novel. Dramatic, horrifying, sensuously descriptive, but offering no promises of a glorious future, the novel is a grim reminder that when governments do not protect individuals, love and understanding are all that is left to give meaning to life. Mary Whipple