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.
A Lannan Translation Series Selection
An interracial love story set against the harshness of Algerian colonial and civil wars. After her father allowed her mother to be deported from Switzerland to Germany, Anna leaves home to join the circus, a peripatetic existence leading her to Algiers. There, penniless and bewildered, she leaves the troupe to help a jailed Jewish friend and is caught up in the horrors of colonialism, American wartime liberation, and racism. She also meets the equally penurious Nassreddine, a sweet Chaoui who has experienced injustices himself. With the backdrop of war, the sexually inexperienced pair develops a highly charged erotic relationship, until Nassreddine is arrested for dealing in stolen goods and spends three years in the army in Europe. Back in Africa, he tracks Anna to Madagascar, where for five years they live on a farm and have twins and he remains eager to return to his homeland. French troops arrest, interrogate and torture him during the Algerian war of independence, freedom fighters blame his giving of information for French army massacres and kill his children, and Anna disappears while he is in jail. Forty years later, Anna resurfaces in Algiers, looking for Nassreddine. The civil war rages. She sends a telegram to Nassreddine's village and then heads off to find him, with a nine-year-old orphaned peanut-seller as guide. Rebels kidnap and brutalize them, until they escape during an army bombing of rebel positions. Finally, Nassreddine and Anna are reunited and they, along with the boy, head to the southern desert regions, still much in love. Despite the human kindness of a few minor characters, however, the story's lingering images are the bestial bloodthirstiness and sexual predation of French and Algerian men, the inhuman victimization of the Algerian people, and the seeming futility of any solution. Not groundbreaking, and sometimes overly melodramatic, but, still, a solid, engaging, and agonizingly brutal piece of work. (Kirkus Reviews)
Series: Lannan Translation Selection (Graywolf Paperback)
Number Of Pages: 288
Published: 1st August 2004
Publisher: Graywolf Press,U.S.
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 22.8 x 15.2
Weight (kg): 0.43
Edition Type: New edition