Bitter Chronicles, Algeria 1985-200
I LEAF THROUGH THE
MANUSCRIPT I’M ABOUT TO send to my editor and realize that each page
corresponds to nearly a thousand deaths in the new Algerian war, not a
civil war but a war against civilians. So many of my friends and
others I would have been happy to count as friends died a horrible
death—writer, reporter, pediatrician, psychiatrist, theater director, singer
with his tongue cut out for the crime of song, women—I won’t name anyone for
fear of forgetting someone, and because besides them, there are so very many
whose names are never mentioned, who were thrown into wells, burned alive,
massacred with axes, hanged, torn limb from limb. Is it possible that these
events unfolded in the country of my childhood, that taught me good and
evil, the price of brotherhood and honor? My father’s combat medal hangs on
a wall in the family apartment. He died in 1982, well before the torment
that lacerated Algeria. What would he and his brothers have said, those
partisans who sacrificed their best years, their very lives in many cases,
for the independence of their beautiful Algeria; what would they have said
if they could have come back to life, about these thousands of Muslim St.
Bartholomew’s days, this demented pruning of Algerian lives by Algerian
hands, across valleys and mountains, towns and villages. Lockjawed with
shame, they would have said nothing at all. Fatally discouraged, they would
have lain down on the ground to die all over again. And I imagine that even
in hell or in paradise, even among themselves, these witnesses from beyond
the grave would have kept their mouths shut. Because some acts wholly defile
even a mere witness.
I was born in 1956
in Casablanca, to an Algerian father and a Moroccan mother. My mother’s
mother was Swiss, from a small canton near Geneva. She was a trapeze artist
who traveled for many years with the great Knie circus. I was fortunate
enough to know her well. She had a flamboyant personality, kind and quick
tempered, and cradled my early childhood with stories of magical tours and
amazing exploits. Her mad feats made a deep impression on me. How beautiful,
to fling yourself into the void, with infinite trust in your partner for
your “return” to existence (since life itself was at stake), defying mortal
gravity, transcending the shabby human state. My grandmother never talked
about it to us in those terms of course, but her grandchildren felt in a
confused way that her history was more mysterious than a fairy tale: she
flew, she really flew; there was nothing make-believe about it.
grandfather had a mother who was a descendant of Mauritanian black slaves.
On my Algerian father’s side, I could mention, among others, a
great-grandfather who showed exceeding insolence to the Bey of Constantine
during the Turkish occupation. The family, fearing reprisals, took refuge in
Biskra where one day they received an enormous package from the Ottoman
administration. It was nothing less than my heroic ancestor, carefully
stuffed with straw, courtesy of the Turks.
As far back as I
can recall, our house was always teeming with books. Everything from plays
to political economy, along with novels and all sorts of scientific works.
By force of circumstance, I became an indiscriminately voracious reader. At
13 or 14 I devoured the comic books I adored right along with such disparate
or age-inappropriate works as Shakespeare and the Memoirs of Casanova
(this last well hidden from my parents, of course). I was a thousand miles
away from understanding what I read. I read English drama in the same way I
would have read The Adventures of Sindbad or The Last of the
Mohicans. But it sends the psyche on a romp with impunity. I guess it
goes to show what happens when you fool around with the unconscious mind.
Yet it was always
clear to me that my future profession and my life would be indissolubly
bound (as they say of marriage) to some scientific activity, and later I
chose mathematics, which seemed to me at that time to represent the height
of intellectual asceticism. I remember those long summer afternoons in
Constantine when everyone else was asleep, overcome by the heat, while I
slowly immersed myself in the cool refreshing pleasure—unfortunately unknown
to those who are not lovers of the so-called exact sciences—of surmounting a
mathematical obstacle or solving a demanding problem in algebra or geometry
with the sole assistance of one’s own cerebral convolutions.
That night in
Algiers I hated poetry.
It wasn’t very
late, but late enough so that the streetlights had been lit and the streets
were mostly empty.
We were going to
the cinematheque to see some movie or other. A half hour’s leisurely stroll
from Bab el Oued to Ben Mhidi. My brother and I chatted about this and that
and laughed aloud at the absurd anecdotes we took turns inventing. Our
conversation wasn’t about anything in particular, it was just verbal
relaxation after a day of work, a noisy display of pleasure in each other’s
I had been pretty
pleased with myself just then. The day before, after many futile attempts,
an editor had accepted my first manuscript. I was still walking on air.
Poet, I tell you, I
was beginning to feel like a poet. From head to foot.
The allure of a
poet, the versatility of a poet, the contentment of a poet. For some time
then, days or weeks, I couldn’t say not having paid close attention, if the
hour was late the following sight could be seen at the entrance to the Bab
el Azoun beneath arcades at the point where the street makes an L-turn: a
woman and her two children lying asleep on a mattress of cardboard scraps.
Algiers is a big
city, anything can happen. The heads of the three sleepers, two small, one
larger, resting on a pillow also of cardboard emerging from a large gray
blanket had become familiar to me. In the end they were just part of the
scenery. A sort of sullen complacency dictated my thoughts. “There have
always been beggars. What can I do about it?” So we came to that bend in the
street, Samir laughing uproariously, or maybe I was the one laughing, and
meanwhile I happened to glance toward the corner where the small family
usually took shelter. My brother automatically looked the same way.
We hadn’t slowed
the pace. It took us two or three seconds tops, to pass by the spot.
“Did you see?”
Samir’s voice, his laughter suddenly interrupted, was thin, distorted. The
expression “a blank voice”—connoting fading speech—was never more
appropriate. I didn’t reply, but the same emotion grabbed me by the collar,
like a thief. What could I have replied? Neither of us spoke. The “bed” was
already made up and although only the little girl was in it, the spread
blanket indicated that her mother and sister were nearby. Under one of the
arcade lanterns, the older kid had the faraway look in her eyes of someone
completely absorbed in a complicated assignment. With a pencil in her
mouth, bent over her open notebook the schoolgirl—she was a little
schoolgirl—toiled studiously at her homework.
Summer is hell in
Constantine. The temperature can easily hit 110 or higher, in the shade I
mean. At the time of which I speak, the water in my North African Toledo was
frequently cut off. Few trees had been planted and the oaks and ash that
bordered some of our downtown streets must have thought, with dumb
resignation, that it was no joke to have to compete with those damn palm
trees, certainly more suited to this city not very far from the Sahara of
sand dunes and oases.
In my memory of
those summers, water played a prominent role. We so coveted it we would wait
for hours in front of a faucet or a pipe, as unhurried as a city hall clerk
at his counter. Chilled water was taken like a reward from the precious
refrigerator in our apartment, steeped in darkness while outside that
implacable jailer, the sun, stood watch. Despair seized the entire family
when the refrigerator broke down. The repair man called to save the day but
lectured mercilessly, like a doctor with a doomed patient, about the
shortage of spare parts.
uninterrupted) was the flow of water in the little fountain in the old town,
the Souika, across from the entry to our family mosque, the mosque where my
paternal ancestors have been laid to rest for generations and of which I,
despite my agnosticism and if life had not decided otherwise, would have
become the unpaid manager. I still have the school notebooks in which my
austere father scrupulously recorded minor repairs, donations from the
congregation and his occasional rather sharp comments about certain imams.
This mosque was to become a great source of worry to my father before his
death. A new group of imams had begun to deliver sermons that were
increasingly political and violent, so that my father, who believed in a
fairly tolerant traditional Islam, came to feel betrayed in his own mosque.
In a great rage one day, he went straight to an office of the Ministry of
Religious Affairs and signed a statement transferring complete ownership of
this house of worship to the Algerian state. Of course, as soon as he got
home he bitterly regretted this decision and could know no peace until he
had recovered the blasphemous document that put the government in charge of
the mosque, and our family memories. My aged and venerable father, who in
his youth had directed a theater troupe, perfected a tricky rescue scenario
with my mother’s help. The next day, at the Ministry of Habous (religious
donations) everything went off as planned. My mother, wrapped in her white
veil, raised a terrific row with my father in the presence of a government
official flabbergasted to see the previous day’s donor return accompanied by
such a fury of a wife. “My wife doesn’t believe me when I tell her I deeded
the family mosque to the government,” my father complained sanctimoniously.
“Show her the paper I signed yesterday, so she’ll understand the measure is
irrevocable.” The official pursed his lips to show his disapproval of this
conduct, defying description, of this wife who dared to raise her voice
against her husband in public, and in Constantine no less! But he finally
made up his mind to remove the deed from the drawer where he had carefully
filed it (it’s not every day the city receives the donation of a house of
worship!) and displayed it proudly before the irascible woman. “Where is it
written, this accursed business about a donation?” “But there, woman, right
there!” And he heedlessly shoved the paper under my mother’s nose, whereupon
she grabbed it and lit out of there without another word. Choking with rage,
the official threatened to send the police after her. My father pretended to
be just as upset as the official was, yelling that this time his wife had
gone too far, that she was really in for it, that divorce was likely and
that the official had no cause for worry because the document would be back
in his hands within 10 minutes. Later, my father, in great hilarity, told us
that our mother got carried away and continued to play her role with great
passion, even after they were well out of sight of the Prefecture and the
turning around to look at us. She took advantage of the situation, she gave
me a real dressing down that day!” he grumbled, half amused, half annoyed.
A friend, let’s
call him Abdelkrim, told me about a conversation he had a few days ago with
pals from his neighborhood, Belcourt. On his way out of a building in his
crowded housing project, he is stopped by a group of 10 of his oldest
friends, all around his age (between 25 and 30). After cordial handshakes
all around, some pats on the back, some lame jokes, comes an embarrassed
silence. Abdelkrim understands that they have joined forces to tell him
something, but no one dares to begin. “Hey guys, what’s up? Why the long
One of them clears
“Krimo, we really
like you, you know that . . .”
“I should hope so,
after all the stupid tricks we’ve pulled off from the time we were yay
“It’s just that . . .
you’re never around anymore these days.”
“Hey, I work and
then, you know, and I’m married now. It’s almost a year already . . . I’m no
longer on my own . . . I have obligations.” Another speaks up.
“A year, fine, but a
year is a long time.”
is about to lose his temper.
“A long time? What’s
the matter with you?”
Alilou, who used to
be the cutup of the gang and now wears a narrow fringe of beard, replies,
“The first few months, we could understand that you came home from work and
didn’t leave the house again. But now . . . you understand, Krimo, we just
want what’s best for you. So we decided to counsel you. Like brothers.”
Abdelkrim is just
about stunned speechless. Alilou continues, growing bolder.
“It’s not very
healthy to spend too much time with a woman, even if she is your wife. Of
course, as soon as you get home from work, you should devote a few minutes
to your wife, have coffee with her; she’s entitled to that much. You have
to give her her due, but nothing more. After that, you go out and join your
brothers from the project to talk, exchange opinions. Then we all go to the
mosque together, we pray, we listen to a sermon. Then we continue the
discussion and once it’s late, that’s when you go home.” Abdelkrim is
goggle-eyed over this crude meddling in his private life. He’s upset, he
starts to cough.
Omar, usually so
quiet, raises the stakes. “What Alilou told you is for your own good, Krimo.
Woman is the commencement of Hell.”
A middle-sized town
in central Algeria. A large café called the Snack, where young guys and
those not so young do their best to kill time, which, for its part, is
slowly killing them. Some drink endless cups of coffee. Some play cards or
dominoes, some throw themselves into interminable conversations in which
they squawk about everything and nothing and in which, because the boredom
is deadly, their gossip all too quickly skids toward malice. Last week, the
subject of their scuttlebutt was an unmarried middle-aged nurse whom
everyone recognized as above reproach in her profession, a demon for work,
but accused by all of having the worst vices. One guy says she was the
boss’s mistress, the guy next to him says she’s had dozens of adventures.
And all the guys are more or less hot and bothered and more or less
frustrated and ready to invent sordid details. In fact, these coffee
drinkers know, in their heart of hearts, that none of this is true, that the
nurse is a virtuous woman, but what can you do? Human nature is so
constituted that men in groups love to be cruel. Said and Redouane (I’ve
taken the precaution of changing their names) participated in this slander
contest along with the others. Gleefully, but separately, because of the
sacrosanct principle of horma (the requirement of modesty among members of
the same family). The two brothers are basically no worse than their
companions; they’re between 23 and 25 years of age, married with children,
good family men. They lost their father early on. Their mother, in her 40s,
is a courageous widow, still beautiful. Said lives with his mother, Redouane
with his in-laws.
Friday. For lack of
other diversions, after the soccer match Redouane heads back to the
inevitable Snack. When he approaches the table where he usually sits with
his friends, they cut the conversation short. Redouane has the unpleasant
feeling he heard his mother’s name before the talking stopped. “What were
you talking about anyway?”
The guys sitting
there are embarrassed. No one dares look him in the eye. He repeats the
question, struggling against his rising anger. Beside himself, he grabs D by
D decides to admit
that they were talking about . . . his mother and that …
"And what, and what ?"
hears that so and so learned from whatshisname that his mother is supposed
to have a lover and someone else maintains that another someone is supposed
to have seen them together. The identical scenario as with the nurse.
Without stopping to
think, Redouane, raging mad, goes looking for his brother and the two of
them, with vengeful steps, return to their childhood home in order to thrash
the widow—their mother!—making her pay dearly for her alleged lapse.
fulfilled, they head back (where else?) to the café. The coffee drinkers act
like they have no idea what’s happened, but a sort of tacit approval is
written on their faces: who loves well, chastises well, right? The
“incident” is already distant in their minds when suddenly a disheveled,
wild-eyed woman, possessed by some form of madness, enters the Snack.
Everyone turns around. The two brothers freeze at the sight of their
mother. The woman claws at her face, her nails draw blood, she howls at her
two children, taking the whole room as her witness. “When I brought you
into this world, when I nursed you, when I wiped you, I wasn’t a slut
then, was I?”
People tried to
calm her down, and only succeeded in enraging her further.
The two young
blades, backed into a corner, listened, paralyzed. “When your father died
and I had to drudge so that you could go to school and eat your fill and
have clothes to wear, I wasn’t a slut. When I pawned all my jewelry so you
could marry, you, older son, and you, younger son, I wasn’t a slut. No, I
was not a slut.
She’s weeping now,
tears mixed with blood from her scratched face. “I had to wait for the end
of my life, so that my sons . . .” Her voice broke. “Yes, so that my own
sons could beat me, because I had finally decided to become a slut.”
Addis Abeba, Friday 1 PM: the traffic is intense, the usual blare of car
horns from the usual impatient drivers. The fact that it’s Friday, the
weekly day of rest, doesn’t seem to make much difference at this busy
All of a sudden a
young woman dressed in an enormous black sheet starts across the
intersection at its widest point. Her steps are hesitant; her tight black
covering concealing her entire face seems to greatly restrict her field of
vision. A car almost hits her.
A boy of about 10
catches up with her. He’s wearing a little white djellaba and matching
skullcap. He takes her hand to guide her and she lets him, with no loss to
her hieratic posture. The child may be her son or her brother. I follow her
with my eyes, unreal black silhouette amid the chaotic traffic. She seems
to glide across the street, sure of herself now, enclosed in her world of
She reaches the
saving sidewalk, lets go the hand of her little guide and hurries onward,
silently triumphant, the child still trotting gaily beside her.
Catching my breath,
I wonder, who is this woman . . . and who am I, for my own part? The lady is
my compatriot; does she acknowledge me as her compatriot?
On October 17,
1988, a few days after the week of riots and harsh reprisals by army and
secret police—hundreds shot dead in the streets, hundreds more arrested and
tortured—a general assembly of university professors from central Algeria
was convened at Bab Ezzouar. It was a tremendously emotional occasion
because for the first time since independence Algerian citizens were able to
speak out in public about the torture to which they’d been subjected while
in the custody of security forces. In a collective surge of outrage, we
decided to adopt two resolutions, the first a national petition against
torture and the second roughly corresponding to a Charter of Freedoms that
the signataries wished to see applied in Algeria.
A committee was
assigned to draft both statements. The first was easily adopted, but the
second—containing our democratic demands—met with stubborn resistance on one
particular point: the demand for a multi-party state. Then it came to a
vote, and to the surprise of some of us, this item was eliminated. The
majority who voted to remove it from our list of demands offered various
excuses, all boiling down to one unseemly explanation: we mustn’t divide the
democrats by voting for something so radically new.
would soon make a mockery of this argument, by “granting” a multiparty state
in February 1989, thus demonstrating our incapacity, as an intelligentsia,
to spearhead the movement for democratic reforms.
If anyone is to be
held responsible for the “creation” of religious fundamentalism, it is
without doubt the Algerian state, or more precisely, the Pouvoir that
has ruled the state since independence. What’s at work here as in the rest
of the Arab world is a simple but ironclad law: extremism begets extremism.
extremism of the men who without sharing power have ruled us since 1962, who
in the name of some strange “revolutionary legitimacy” have claimed the
right to require Algerians to think as they do and only as they do under
penalty of prison, internment camp, even torture, this extremism has
spawned, almost automatically, another extremism cloaking itself in
religious legitimacy and threatening severe punishment to those who can’t
make up their minds to submit to it.
Algiers, place du
Premier Mai, one of the first rallies of the FIS (Islamic Salvation Front),
huge crowds of bearded activists dressed Afghani style and ordinary people
(!) under their command, trembling with joy and hatred, in unison in their
communion with their leaders. Crowds yelling at the top of their lungs in an
orgasmic rush, an improbable, “We’ll get them!” lumping together the
abhorred Pouvoir, the intellectuals viewed as apostates, women without the
veil, artists . . .
We should have been
on our guard when hundreds of thousands of demonstrators—drunk with the
discovery of some meaning in their scorned, drifting, expendable lives—took
to the streets chanting their well-known declaration of love for the Islamic
Republic: “By it, we shall live; for it, we shall die.” We made fun of them
at times, so as not to fear them. We secretly envied their unity. We
democrats were so ridiculously divided. We attributed the Islamists’
spectacular exaltation to Mediterranean expansiveness, the pleasure of
shouting in a group, like in the soccer stadiums. We were wrong because this
time the group was about to become a mob.
warnings, the first threatening letters, sent to the paper anonymously.
Neither I nor my colleagues took them seriously. The excessive fulminations,
the swollen religious terminology, made them unreadable, almost a joke. We
simply concluded that what we wrote had an impact, created a disturbance,
was, in short, not entirely useless. The future would prove us ferociously
wrong. Several of my colleagues at the magazine would later be executed by
It was right after
the local elections in June 1990, a few months before the scheduled
elections to the national assembly. Algeria was in a feverish state but not
yet plunged into terror. The clutch on my car was giving me trouble as usual
and I had left it with a mechanic on the other side of the highway to the
airport. I walked home, newspapers tucked under my arm, thinking about the
press conference the Committee against Torture had held the day before. We’d
had a large turnout from the press and several dailies had given extensive
coverage to the results of our investigation into mistreatment of Islamist
prisoners following a failed prison break in the Algiers region. Photos of
committee members (including mine, since I was the group’s chief secretary)
ran on the front page, alongside our detailed accusations of abuse by prison
About half a mile
from home, I passed a group of young idlers, greeted them absentmindedly and
continued on my way. One of them suddenly exclaimed, “Hey, it’s Benmalek,
the one who writes those articles against God in Pharoah’s papers.” Pharoah
is what the fundamentalists call the state and its authorities, considered
apostates, criminals, enemies of Islam. “Hey guys, what are you carrying on
about? Be serious, me, a member of the Committee against Torture, a
supporter of Pharoah? Here, read the paper . . .” An insult erupted, the
group made some threatening motions, someone put out an arm and nearly
latched on to me.
And suddenly I was
running, pursued by a furious mob hurling an armada of dire curses. I
managed to shake them, maybe because, as they say, fear has wings. I spent
the day ruminating over what I felt was a terrible injusice: to have these
hittistes, bored kids without jobs who kill their boredom by “propping up
the walls” of their neighborhood, view me as a hireling of the Pouvoir, that
accursed violent dishonest Pharoah, to the point where I deserved to be
beaten up or worse; and this despite my efforts as a member of the Committee
and my mordant articles about the mismanagement and looting of our common
But I swallowed my
bitterness and blamed the whole episode on the inevitable glitches of a
democracy in its apprenticeship phase. The first time I was really shaken
to the core was in conversation with a colleague at the university. It was a
week after the first round of elections to the national assembly. The
fundamentalists had won a majority in nearly every district. Their leaders,
awaiting the apotheosis of the second round (supposedly giving them complete
control of the Assembly) strutted on screen, and noisily proclaimed that the
Constitution and that filthy impious western import, democracy, had only a
few more days to live. The atmosphere was strange: end of the world and
unreal at the same time. As if the staggering results achieved by the FIS in
the first round of voting had been only a grim farce staged by the Algerian
people, a nightmare from which we would soon awaken.
S was a
mathematician, like me. We got along extremely well. I valued his forthright
manner, his sense of humor, his kindness. We all knew he practiced his
religion, never once missed his prayers, but without making a display of it;
he adhered to the easygoing strain of Islam historically traditional in our
country, unlike certain hotheads (of both sexes) at our institute who no
longer allowed themselves to shake hands with members of the opposite sex.
One of them, with the rank of full professor, refused to look unveiled women
in the face; when addressing a female student, he turned his head to one
We talked, like
everyone at that time, about what was to become of Algeria. To my great
surprise, this warmhearted, moderate and reasonable colleague seemed to
approve the most extremist positions taken by those whom the elections
designated as our new leaders. I was flabbergasted. Finally I couldn’t take
it any more; at my wit’s end, I challenged him, “You know me well, S, we’ve
been working together for a long time, right? You’re an honest man and
without malice toward others, right? So answer my question candidly: As you
see it, would there be a place for me in your new Islamic republic? Would I
still have the right to live in this country?” He stared at me
“I don’t know. In
your case, we’d have to consult the fquih, the theologian.” His frown was
friendly, but it was the kind of frown you wear with someone who is
seriously ill. He would have liked to help me, but I was beyond help.
I’m at the train
station waiting in turmoil for my wife and daughter whom I haven’t seen for
nearly a year. A two-week tourist visa has at last been granted them. A
woman steps off the train with a little girl in her arms. The child is my
daughter, 17 months old. My throat tightens, because I know it’s my daughter
and yet I don’t recognize her, she has changed so much. All day I try to
tame her, but as soon as we’re alone in one room, she rushes to join her
mother in the other room. In the late afternoon we go out together but after
about 10 yards she starts screaming with fear. I look like a kidnapper with
this little girl wriggling in my arms, demanding her mother. Pursued by the
hostile stares of passersby, I rush back indoors. I feel like a fool.
I left, I returned.
Several times. Between two massacres. Between two butcheries. Between two
bouts of despair. Algeria began to escape me. My country frightened me more
and more, horrified me too. I understood it less and less. I loved it as
much as ever, even if, as was often, I hated it with a passion.
Nightfall in the capital. The owner of a large retail establishment is about
to roll down his iron curtain. A woman with a small child in tow sits on the
sidewalk two or three yards from the store, in all likelihood intending to
spend the night in the shelter of a niche in the facade. She may be a
refugee from the hills, one of the hundreds of thousands who fled the
murderous countryside for the illusory safety of the big cities. The
shopkeeper is annoyed; he rolls the curtain back up again and goes to fetch
a broom and a bucket. Pretending to clean the sidewalk, he empties the
bucket of water in their direction, splattering the wretched woman who
stands up, and with painful effort and without protest, goes off with her
baby to find another, no less precarious spot to bed down for the night.
again. Stifling heat. I’m walking along Didouche Mourad, the capital’s main
thoroughfare. A man calls out to me. Well, a filthy scrap of a man, let’s
say—armless, legless, leaning against a wall, the stumps of his thighs
“resting” on a soiled bit of carpet. His head streaming with sweat. “Buy me
a Coke, brother, I’m thirsty.”
I buy a can of soda
at the café across the street. But when it comes time to hand it over, I’m
at a loss because the guy has no arms. “Help me drink, may God preserve
I open the can and
hold it against his mouth. He drinks avidly. Soda drips from the corners of
his mouth, runs down his chin and lands on his T-shirt. When he has caught
his breath, he blinks wearily, relishing the liquid coolness. I stand there
speechless, with the can of soda pressed to his lips. He signals to me to
set it on the scrap of rug. I hesitate to leave, ill at ease in the
presence of so much misfortune personified. The man notices my hesitancy. He
flashes me a mocking smile with just a touch of irony. He sighs, “What do
you say, brother, our Dzair is really difficult.”
I manage to smile
back at him.
“Yes, brother, who
could say it better than you: Dzair, our beloved Algeria, gives us a really
I was all choked up
when I left him.
Published in French by
Editions Pauvert 2003
Mathematician, novelist and
journalist Anouar Benmalek was born in Casablanca in 1956. He was a
co-founder of the Algerian Committee against Torture, following the 1988
riots. His novel The Lovers of Algeria (1997), a best-seller in France, won
the Rachid Mimouni Prize. His works have been translated into 10 languages.
He has lived in France since 1992.
Suzanne Ruta is an author
(Stalin in the Bronx and Other Stories), translator and book critic whose
work has appeared in the New York Times Book Review, VLS, Newsday, Women’s
Review of Books and Entertainment Weekly, among others. She is a founding
member of SOMOS UN PUEBLO UNIDO, an immigrants’ rights group based in Santa
Fe, New Mexico.
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