LitHub has kicked off its series of “books by women we’d love to see translated into English” with a German list of ten from Katy Derbyshire. An Arabic list is coming soon, but unfortunately has nothing from Algeria. Nadia Ghanem, who writes about Algerian literature for ArabLit and HuffPost Maghreb, compiled a list of six:
By Nadia Ghanem
Amal Bouchareb (أمل بوشارب)
Amal Bouchareb was born in 1984 in Damascus. She released one short story collection Thirteen on Her (عليها ثلاثة عشر) in 2014 published by Chihab eds, and a thriller Flickers of a Star (سَكرات نجمة) in 2015 with Chihab also. Her first work is a collection of thirteen stories, with each introducing a woman, twelve women in total like the 12 apostles whose characters meet and merge in the last.
Her thriller (سَكرات نجمة) mixes esoterism, the hand of Fatma, murder and Algerian music, and deserves a lot more attention than it has so far.
Nassima Bouloufa (نسيمة بولوفة)
Nassima Bouloufa is a discreet writer of short stories, who is also one of the rare Algerian women to write detective fiction. She published her detective story Heart Beats in the Dead of the Night (نبضات آخر الليل) in 2015 with Viscera eds.
Unlike most other Algerian detective novels, her story is netted around woman as central characters.
Zakia Allal (زاكية علال)
Zakia Allal was born in 1966 in Algeria. She has published a number of short-stories between 2000 and 2015, notably four collections with Letters to Defy Fire and Siege (رسائل تتحدى النار والحصار) – a series of letters by a Palestinian woman in Gaza who writes to her husband, gone to try and emigrate to America -, Naked Veins (شرايين عارية) stories in which the symbolism of blood as love and country is explored, The Return Ship Burnt (أحرقت سفينة العودة) and The Curse of Exile (لعنة المنفى).
In 2015, she released her first novel Returning to My Grave (عائد إلى قبري), which tells the story of an Algerian journalist covering Iraq just before it falls while living in Algeria during the black decade. Her use of magic realism and a use of the fantastic, almost gothic, are particularly interesting traits in her short-stories (see شرايين عارية online on open access).
Assia Ali Moussa (آسيا علي موسى)
Assia Ali Moussa is the founder and director of Mim Publishing. She has published two short story collections. Both They Were Sewn Together (كانتا رَتقاً) published in 2007 by Intishar eds in Beirut (the title of which suggests a reference to verse 30 of the Quran’s 21st surah The Prophets) and Letter to Adam (رسالة إلى آدم), published by Mim in 2011, particularly centre on the act and the process of looking into oneself.
Animals are very much present in Assia’s work and this often places her stories on the border of the world of dreams and hallucinations.
Fadela Farouk (فضيلة فاروق)
Fadela Farouk was born in Constantine in 1967. She is one of the strongest women’s voices of Algerian literature on matters of women’s rights and who openly discussed issues of rape and violence against of women. Her work is perhaps one of the most neglected of her generation especially since she left to live in Lebanon. According to Banipal Magazine who featured her in their issue 44 12 Women Writers (2012) she has published four novels, and two short story collections between 1997 and 2012. In 2015, she announced the release of a poetry collection (في حب قديس) published in Beirut.
Some articles report that part of her work was translated in French and Spanish yet none are well known nor easily available.
Rabia Djelti (ربيعة جلطي)
Rabia Djelti is mostly known as a poet but she is also a notable novelist. Her latest novel Peppermint Nostalgia (حنين بالنعناع) co-published in Lebanon and Algeria (2014) tells the story of a young woman Dhaouia who realises she has wings. She becomes aware of a sixth continent in which all the human artists no matter the era they influenced still live. Last year she published the Prophetess (النبية) a long poem in the form of a narration (here is an extract). She is, incidentally, the novelist Amin Zaoui’s other half.
Some of her poetry was translated into French but most such translated works are not easily available or out of stock.
The Algerian press announced on May 14 2016, that Algerian author Hafidha Taam has won Jordan’s “Ghassan Kanafani Short Story award” for her collection (من مذكرات غرفتي).
Nadia is ArabLit’s Algeria Editor and a doctoral student at the School of Oriental and African Studies, where she specializes in the ancient languages of Iraq and Syria. Based between Algeria and the UK, she blogs at tellemchaho.blogspot.co.uk about living in Algeria, and Algerian literature.