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Algerian Writers

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1 Algerian Writers on Sat Apr 30, 2011 5:51 pm

Chinda

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Keteb Yacine

Algerian novelist, poet, and playwright. Kateb wrote in French until the beginning of the 1970s, when he started to write his théâtre de combat in vernacular Arabic. Kateb's Nedjma (1956) was the first Maghribi novel to be instantly recognised as a classic, and has since acquired the status of a national revolutionary novel.

Kateb Yacine was born in Condé-Smendou, near Constantine, into an ancient, highly literate family. His father was Kateb Mohamed and his mother was Kateb Jasmina. Kateb was raised on tales of Arab achievement as well as the legends of the Algerian heroes. After attending Koranic school, he entered the French-language school system. In 1945 Kateb's studies at the Collège de Sétif were interrupted by his arrest, following his participation in a nationalist demonstration in Setif. The demonstration had turned to rioting and massacre of thousands people by the police and the army. Kateb was imprisoned without trial and freed a few months later. During his imprisonment Kateb discovered his two great loves, revolution and the poetry. One of Kateb's best-known poems, 'La rose de Blida' (1963), was about his mother, who, believing him to have been killed during the demonstration, suffered a mental breakdown.

From 1947 Kateb began to regularly visit France until he settled there permanently. At the age of seventeen Kateb published his first book, Soliloques (1946), a collection of poems. In 1948 he published a long poem, 'Nedjma ou le poème ou le couteau', in which the character of Nedjma, a mysterious spirit woman, appeared for the first time. Nedjma is also the name of his cousin whom the author loved but could not properly court.

From 1949 to 1951 Kateb worked as a journalist, principally for Alger Républicain. He travelled through Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Soviet Central Asia. He was for a time a dockworker and from 1952 he devoted himself entirely to writing. Kateb's most famous work, Nedjma, appeared in 1957. The work incorporates local legends and popular religious beliefs and treats the quest for a restored Algeria in a mythic manner. Its discontinuous chronology and multiple narrative voices have deeply influenced Francophone North African literature and writers elsewhere in the Third World. Kateb himself has admitted that William Faulkner was the most important influence on his style of writing.

Nedjma recounts a tale of intra-clan conflict against a background of the violence and disunity of Algerian society under French colonial rule. The story is set in Bône, Algeria. Owing to the fragmented style, the plot of the work is difficult to follow. Nedjma, a name meaning, "star" in Arabic", is a married woman of great beauty and uncertain past. She is loved by four revolutionaries. The more they discover about her, the less they really know. Nedjma never changes but the other characters pass through all the ages of life. Nedjma, portrayed in an ethereal way, embodies the attachment of traditional Algerians to their clan. Critical attention has concentrated on the novel's unusual structure. The action is not chronological - the narration has similarities with the arabesques and geometric forms of Islamic art.

Kateb took up the themes and figure of Nedjma in many of his poems and plays. His first play was Le cadavre encerclé (prod. 1958), a drama of colonization and alienation filled with surrealist images. In the mythical expression of the Algerian tragedy, Nedjma represented all the values of Arabic civilization trampled upon by history. Le polygone étoilé (1966), his second major prose work, introduced several characters from Nedjma. As the author himself explained, everything he has done constitutes "a long single work, always in gestation."

Influenced by Aeschylus, Rimbaud, and Brecht, whom he met in Paris, Kateb decided to break away from lyrical tradition and create a more political theatre. Among Kateb's later works is the play L'Homme aux sandales de caoutchouc (1970, The Man in Rubber Sandals), in which the Vietnamise hero is Ho Chi Minh. In small roles are such characters as Mao Zedong, Chiang Kai-shek, Pierre Loti, and Marie-Antoinette. A series of vignettes highlights the military history of Vietnam and the plight of the transient Algerian labor force in Europe. Characters are presented face to face, the French opposite the Vietnamese, the Viet Cong opposite the Americans. Brief sequences and spoken chorus alternate. The trial of an American Everyman, called Captain Supermac, occupies the last third of the play. Kateb had visited Vietnam in 1967 when American troops fought with the South Vietnamese and warplanes bombed military and civilian targets in the north. The play was simultaneously produced in Algiers and Lyon.

The open warfare against French rule ended in 1962 when Algerians, voting in a national referendum, approved independence and France recognized Algeria's sovereignty. Since the early 1970s Kateb lived in his native country. Several of his plays were produced in France and Algeria, where he led a popular theatre group. In a short play, Mohammed, prends ta valise (1971), Kateb wanted to show the class complicity that exists between the French bourgeoisie and the Algerian bourgeoisie. He had remarked that the revolutionary writer "must transmit a living message, placing the public at the heart of a theatre that partakes of the never-ending combat opposing the proletariat to the bourgeoisie." Kate died on October 28, 1989, in Grenoble, France.

2 Re: Algerian Writers on Sun Jun 05, 2011 3:39 pm

Chinda

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Ahlem Mosteghanemi


Ahlam (or Ahlem) Mosteghanemi is the daughter of Algerian revolutionary leader Mohammed Chérif, is a notable Algerian writer. She is the first female Algerian author of Arabic-language works to be translated into English (famous Algerian novelist Assia Djebar writes in French). Thus far, the first two of a trilogy have been translated. They are Memory in the Flesh and Chaos of the Senses. They reflect and feature the Algerian struggle for post-colonial success and security.

Her Life

By the time she was born, her father had already been imprisoned after the 1945 riots. When the Algerian war broke out in 1954, her family home in Tunisia became a central meeting point for resistance fighters allied to the Algerian People’s Party including her father and cousins. After independence, in 1962, the family returned to Algeria, where Ahlam was sent to the country’s first Arabic-language school.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she became one of the first Algerian Arabic writers, broadcasting her poetry on national radio to support her family due to her father’s ill-health. She earned a B.A. in Arabic Literature from the University of Algiers in 1973, and also published her first poetry collection, Ala’ Marfa Al Ayam (the harbour of days).

In 1982, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the Sorbonne in Paris (her thesis was published by L’Harmattan as Algerie, Femmes et l’Ecriture), where she had moved in the late 1970s. She married a Lebanese journalist and moved to Beirut, where she published her first novel, Memory in the Flesh (Zakirat al Jassad) in 1993. To date, it has sold over a million copies across the Arabic-speaking world. It was translated into English by the American University in Cairo Press in 2000, after winning the 1998 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature.
Ahlem Mosteghanemi currently lives in Beirut, Lebanon with her husband and has 3 children.


Her Works


NOVELS


1)Memory in the Flesh - Published by Dar Al-Adab, Beirut, 1993, 34 printed editions. Considered by critics as the most important work of Arabic fiction and one of the Top 100 Arab novels published during the last century.
2)Chaos of the Senses - Published by Dar Al-Adab in Beirut 1997, 22 editions.
3)Passer-by a Bed - Published by Ahlem Mosteghanemi in Beirut 2003, 17editions.


ANTHOLOGIES

1)In the Harbour of Days - Published by SNED in Algers 1973
2)Writing in a moment of nudity - Published by Dar Al-Adab in Beirut 1976
3)Algeria: Women and Writings - Published by l'Harmattan in Paris 1985
4)Lies of a Fish - Published by l'ENAG in Algers 1993
5) nessyane.com - Published by Dar Al-Adab in Beirut 2009
.

ACADEMIC RESEARCH

1)Academic research for her doctoral thesis, Paris 1982, supervised by Jacques Berque.

UNESCO has printed all her work in Braille for blind readers


Awards and honors

Awarded The Shield of Beirut by the Governor of Beirut in a special ceremony held at Unesco Palace attended by 1500 people at the time her book “nessyane.com” was published in 2009.
Identified by Forbes Magazine as: The most successful Arabic writer, having exceeded sales of 2,300,000. One of the ten most influential women in the Arab world and the leading woman in literature.
Received the Shield of Al Jimar Foundation for Arabic Creativity in Tripoli – Libya, 2007.
Named the Algerian Cultural Personality of the year 2007 by Algerian News Magazine and the Algerian Press Club.
Selected for three years in a row (2006, 2007 and 2008) as one of the 100 most powerful public figures in the Arab World by Arabian Business Magazine, ranking at number 58 in 2008.
Named The Most Distinguished Arab Woman of 2006 (selected from 680 nominated women) by the Arab Women Studies Center Paris / Dubai.
Awarded a medal of honor from Abdelaziz Bouteflika the President of Algeria in 2006.
Received the Medal of Appreciation and Gratitude from Sheikh Abdelhamid Ben Badis Foundation, Constantine, 2006.
Received the Pioneers of Lebanon Committee Medal for her overall work 2004.
Received the Damascus Medal of Honor, Syria 2000.
Received the George Tarabeh Prize for Culture and Creativity, Lebanon, 1999.
Received the Amman Loyalty Medal for Creativity, Amman, Jordan 1999.
Received the Naguib Mahfouz Prize for Memory of the Flesh in 1998.
Received the Nour Foundation Prize for Women's Creativity, Cairo, 1996.

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