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33 - The North African Novel in French

from Part V - Fictions of the Fifth Republic: From de Gaulle to the Internet Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2021

Adam Watt
University of Exeter
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The ‘North African novel in French’ is a difficult category to circumscribe and define. It immediately announces a tension, juxtaposing writing in the French language on the one hand with a ‘North African’ culture or identity on the other. This tension bears the trace, moreover, of the colonial past, of regimes established in the Maghrebian region which not only expropriated the land from local peoples and seized local resources but also attempted to impose the use of French language, culture, and ideology. Those novelists who wrote or continue to write in French necessarily record the heritage of France’s aggressive empire-building, even while, as ‘North Africans’, they also associate themselves with local, Arab or Berber cultures. The ‘North African novel in French’ is as a result a divided, alienated creature, disconsolately vilifying the culture in which it nonetheless on some level must participate. This chapter explores three key issues raised by these novels, those of ‘insurrection and revolt’, ‘history and fiction’, and ‘crossing borders’. These issues all reveal the multiple influences negotiated by the North African novel in French as well as signalling its unique contribution to the reinvention of the novel in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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Further Reading

Bensmaïa, Réda, Experimental Nations, or, the Invention of the Maghreb (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003)Google Scholar
Bonn, Charles and Rothe, Arnold (eds.), Littérature maghrébine et littérature mondiale (Würzburg: Verlag Königshausen & Neumann, GmbH, 1995)Google Scholar
Célestin, Roger, Crowley, Patrick, DalMolin, Eliane and MacDonald, Megan (eds.), The Contemporary Roman Maghrébin: Aesthetics, Politics, Production (Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, 20.1 (2016))Google Scholar
Chikhi, Beida, ‘Une visite dans l’atelier itinérant d’Assia Djebar’, Esprit Créateur, 48.4 (2008), 117–28Google Scholar
Esposito, Claudia, Tamalet Talbayev, Edwige, Abderrezak, Hakim (eds.), Le Maghreb méditerranéen: littératures et plurilinguisme (Expressions maghrébines, 11.2 (2012))Google Scholar
Gafaïti, Hafid, ‘Between God and the President: Literature and Censorship in North Africa’, Diacritics, 27.2 (1997), 5984CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gafaïti, Hafid, La Diasporisation de la littérature postcoloniale: Assia Djebar, Rachid Mimouni (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2005)Google Scholar
Gikandi, Simon, ‘Theory after Postcolonial Theory: Rethinking the Work of Mimesis’, in Theory After ‘Theory’, ed. by Elliott, Jane and Attridge, Derek (London: Routledge, 2011), pp. 163–78Google Scholar
Harrison, Nicholas, Postcolonial Criticism: History, Theory, and the Work of Fiction (Cambridge: Polity, 2003)Google Scholar
Hiddleston, Jane, Writing After Postcolonialism: Francophone North African Literature in Transition (London: Bloomsbury, 2017)Google Scholar
Khatibi, Abdelkebir, Maghreb pluriel (Paris: Denoël, 1983)Google Scholar
Mortimer, Mildred, ‘Entretien avec Assia Djebar’, Research in African Literatures, 19.2 (1988), 197203Google Scholar
Mvogo, Faustin (ed.), Le Printemps arabe: prémisses et autopsie littéraires (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2012)Google Scholar
Ouali Alami, Abdallah and Valat, Colette, ‘Décloisonner le discours sur la littérature arabe francophone’, Horizons maghrébins: le droit à la mémoire, 52 (2005), 58.Google Scholar
Ouyang, Wen-chin, Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel: Nation-State, Modernity, and Tradition (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Rothberg, Michael, Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2009)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Šukys, Julija, Silence is Death: The Life and Work of Tahar Djaout (Lincoln, NE and London: University of Nebraska Press, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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