Friday Finds: Salah Badis’s ‘The Nayf’

The protagonists of Salah Badis’ “The Nayf” meet in front of a broken ATM in an upper-class Algiers neighborhood:

The story — The Nayf: A Short Story about Complaint and Dignity in Algeria — is set in the wake of the protests for systemic change that started in February 2019 and is translated by Robin Moger.

It’s part of a series called “Reminiscence of the future,” which “commemorates ten years of revolution in North Africa and West Asia, the authors share their hopes, dreams, questions and doubts.” Salah Badis is an Algerian writer and translator who works as a journalist and writes poetry and short stories. He is also a founding member of the cultural magazine Nafha, and his poems and essays in Arabic have been translated into French, English, and Turkish.

It opens:

I was standing at the cash machine outside the municipal post office in Hydra, surrounded by fellow citizens, all of them in their fifties and sixties, and all of them – all of us – staring at a man whose card had just been swallowed.

“Maybe there’s a problem?” someone from the group ventured. “Maybe there’s no money in the machine?”

The man pointed at the person who had used the machine before him and said that it had swallowed his card too, though neither of them made a mistake when entering their PIN, and neither of their cards were expired.

One of the bystanders began to grumble. He was saying something about “surprise,” that these days the only surprise is when we’re surprised.

The others started to mutter along with him.

Read the whole story at