Monday, May 02, 2005

The lovers of Algeria - Anouar Benmalek

"... anybody, anywhere can fall in love, but it always ends badly..."
But in blatant dismissal of her own experience, Benmalek's characters choose to live their life in hope. As if all of them are challenging the futility of submission to violence, by completely disregarding it; at least for a while.
I didn't think the plot of love torn by violence had much traction left in it, but Benmalek carries it well. Not just carries it, but carries it to perfection. One of the best books I have read since Jhumpa Lahiri.
He portrays Algiers as a country under siege, with the French on one side and the extremists on the other, while the people are caught in the middle. And everyone continues on with the violence, even though they feel its pain personally. It goes on and on, dragging innocents into its folds, killing them or turning them into perpetrators of injustice. People come and go, but the killing and the torture never stops. And it is love, the naivete of a swiss girl and an algerian highlander, that forces them to keep themselves alive through it all.
And a word for the translator too, Joanna Kilmartin, who has transferred the work into english from its original french.
Highly recommended to all book lovers!