The Algerian Remake: Kamel Daoud and Boualem Sansal

March 31, 2017 -
3:30 pm to 5:00 pm
Professor Corbin Treacy (FSU)
West Campus Language Lab

This talk analyzes a trend in twenty-first century Algerian literature wherein authors rewrite canonical European works and situate them in Algeria. I focus on two examples by two controversial figures: Kamel Daoud and Boualem Sansal. Daoud's Meursault, contre-enquête (2013), a retelling of Camus's L'étranger from the point of view of the murdered Arab's brother, was met with global critical acclaim and turned Daoud into something of a global literary celebrity. Sansal's recently published 2084: La fin du monde (2015) uses Orwell's 1984 as a template for an alarmist text that takes place in a post-apocalyptic hellscape ruled by an Islamist party that walks and talks a lot like ISIS. In both Daoud's and Sansal's novels, the power of the original-its place of reverence in the canon, its familiarity, its fan base-plays a powerful role in the text's receptive and critical life. And yet these authors use their source material differently. I argue that Daoud embeds in his work a critique of the canon, while for Sansal, it functions primarily as an amplifier. The mobility granted these novels by the remake genre has fundamentally reoriented the flow of Algerian literary production, both at home and abroad, and calls us to question what it means when postcolonial texts simultaneously "write back" and "write for." Reception to follow. Sponsored by the Department of Romance Studies, the Duke University Middle East Studies Center, and the Center for French and Francophone Studies.

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