Of Dreams and Assassins is the urgent and rhythmic fourth novel of Malika Mokeddem, her second to appear in English. Born in Algeria to a Bedouin family that. View the profiles of people named Malika Mokeddem. Join Facebook to connect with Malika Mokeddem and others you may know. Facebook gives people the. Silence and movement in Malika Mokeddem’s. L’Interdite. Sarah FORZLEY. University of Wisconsin-Madison. During Algeria’s war for independence, women .
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Malika Mokeddem. Of Dreams and Assassins | Geesey | International Fiction Review
University Press of Virginia, Mokeddem is a physician by training who immigrated to France in the s in order to live a more fulfilling life as a professional and independent woman than is permitted in Algerian society.
In Mokeddem’s case, such personal information is relevant as most of this writer’s female protagonists are also engaged in a bitter struggle to assert their right to self-determination in the face of cultural, political, and religious pressures that would constrain them and even do violence to them.
Marcus has prefaced this translation with a very useful introduction that not only presents Mokeddem to an English-speaking public, but also situates this particular work of fiction in the historical and political context of present-day Algeria, including the now ten-year-long civil war pitting Islamic militants against civilians and government forces.
Those unfamiliar with the current Algerian political scene will especially find the introduction to be informative since it not only addresses the main causes of the conflict, but also describes the position of Algerian intellectuals in particular those who write and teach in Frenchand their attempts not to be silenced by the violence and intimidation that has targeted them during the civil war. Of Dreams and Assassins presents the story of one such Algerian intellectual, Kenza Meslem, a French professor from Oran who leaves for France in response to a romantic betrayal as well as to escape an increasingly hostile social and political climate toward intellectuals, especially women professionals.
But Kenza’s voyage to France is also part of her personal quest to learn more about her mother, who was forced to leave Kenza in her ex-husband’s custody as an infant since Algerian family law does not recognize a mother’s right to maintain custody of her children in the event of divorce. Upon her arrival in Montpellier, Kenza tracks down a middle-aged Algerian woman who was the closest friend her mother had.
Biography of Malika MOKEDDEM
In a dramatic scene, Kenza learns that her mother died alone from what was undoubtedly a self-induced abortion. It is clear to readers that Mokeddem establishes the phantom of Kenza’s long-lost mother as the ultimate victim of Algerian patriarchal violence and hypocrisy. Kenza’s father is depicted as a brutish womanizer who, as a meat butcher, is able to victimize poor women who come in search of food to feed their families.
Mokeddem is never subtle in her condemnations of the many forms of male oppression that are sanctioned by social, political, and religious customs in Algeria. Kenza chooses exile in France and then in Canada in order to escape not only her own past, but also the ever-present threat that her father and brothers who have become Islamic militant sympathizers will force her to quit her job, give up her own apartment, and remain cloistered in the family home.
Like many other Algerian novelists, Mokeddem also focuses on the vital cultural, political, historical, and economic ties that bind Algeria and France.
The second half of Of Dreams and Assassins takes place in Montpellier and features a group of memorable characters who could even be seen as “stock players” in the Algerian immigrant community. There are Algerian expatriates who organize into activist associations, there are sympathetic French former residents of Algeria, and there is Slim the Glider, a youth of Algerian-Malian ancestry who refuses the common label of “Beur” a term used to refer to second-generation Franco-Algerians and who becomes Kenza’s guide to Montpellier.
Kenza is soon introduced to Khalti Aicha, a businesswoman who runs the most popular fabric store in the Arab immigrant neighborhood.
In one of the novel’s most entertaining scenes, Kenza witnesses the savvy merchant at work, seducing a male customer into a large purchase with her warm glances and her witty chatter about the names of the different types of fabric. The women back home in Algeria have named the types of cloth mokeddwm poetic and romantic terms that also mingle references to ,okeddem and popular culture.
The patterns include “I’m going to have myself photographed,” “love velvet,” “Chadli’s mustaches,” “Dallas,” and “cable T.
African Success : Biography of Malika MOKEDDEM
This scene highlights Algerian women’s ability to weave magic with words and images. As Khalti Aicha explains to Kenza and Slim, in the face of oppression and disenfranchisement, Algerian women have survived through the art of words: We bartered supplies and stories.
Stories in order to live. The habit remains” As a woman who also writes to feel alive and to feel connected to the land of her birth, Malika Mokeddem might also be seen in this image. She raises her voice in protest against the injustices and violence facing women and men in Algeria today.
Although melodramatic at times, Of Dreams and Assassins develops an important portrait of the social and political climate that is affecting the lives of Algerians both at home and in France.
Through the story of one woman’s search for personal freedom and the truth about her mother’s death, Mokeddem has written a gripping tale of the challenges faced by thousands of Algerians who refuse to be silent about mzlika violent cataclysm that continues to tear the very fabric of Algerian society even today.