Book Review: Joseph Ford, Writing the Black Decade: Conflict and Criticism in Francophone Algerian Literature, New York: Lexington Books, 2021Journal: NETSOL: New Trends in Social and Liberal Sciences (Vol.7, No. 1)
Publication Date: 2022-05-24
Authors : Fouad Mami;
Page : 43-44
Keywords : Algeria; France; Francophone; Literature;
In studying Francophone Algerian Literature of the 1990s, a period otherwise known as the Black Decade or la décennie noire, Ford finds out that the literary outputs, instead of clarifying the conflict, reify it. Indeed, literary outputs published by celebrity figures both during the 1990s and after not only stay neutral about the ideological struggle between the secular-and-military status quo on the one hand and their Islamist contestants on the other, but deem it their mission to testify for posterity. That war was tagged as cultural and simplified to the point of pitting progressivists against depressives. Such a binary portrayal gained currency during the post-Cold War context where ideas of the clash of civilizations become the modo Operandi. Generations of Algerian authors, Ford specifies, have uncritically fallen to that categorization less because they were complicit with the state's narrative but more due to channels of reception in France. Often, those channels recourse to timeless portrayals that reactivated the spectacle (never the essence) of Algeria's war of independence: Algerian enlightened democrats as Les pieds noirs against bearded medievalists, reactivating FLN (National Liberation Front) recidivists. Only from February 2019 onward, the literary scene starts to disentangle this framing, counting some writers who dare to explore the black decade with less bias and a satisfying complexity.
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