Time for a little brain-food? Then head along to the library of the French Institute in Fez and meet Rachid Boudjedra (رشيد بوجدرة)
Born on September the 5th, 1941 in Aïn Beïda, Algeria, Rachid is an Algerian poet, novelist, playwright and critic. Boudjedra wrote in French from 1965 to 1981, at which point he switched to writing in Arabic, often translating his own works back and forth between the two languages.
Boudjedra returned to writing in French in 1992 and has continued to write in that language ever since. Educated in Constantine and in Tunis (at the Collège Sadiki), Boudjedra later fought for the FLN during the Algerian War of Independence. He received his degree in philosophy from the Sorbonne, where he wrote a thesis on Céline. Upon receiving his degree, he returned to Algeria to teach, but was sentenced to two years in prison for his criticisms of the government and was exiled to Blida. He lived in France from 1969 till 1972, and then in Rabat, Morocco until 1975.
Boudjedra's fiction is written in a difficult, complex style, reminiscent of Faulkner or García Márquez in its intricacy. La Répudiation (1969, "The Repudiation") brought him sudden attention, both for the strength with which he challenged traditional Muslim culture in Algeria and for the strong reaction against him. Because a fatwa was issued which called for his death, he felt he had to live outside of Algeria. He has routinely been called the greatest living North African writer.
Boudjedra was awarded the Prix du Roman Arabe in 2010 for Les Figuiers de Barbarie.
Despite a dearth of English translations, two of his novels, Les Figuiers de Barbarie and Les Funérailles are currently being translated by André Naffis-Sahely.
Rachid Boudjedra has also been involved in writing a number of films. Chronique des années de braise (Chronicle of the Years of Fire), (dir. by Mohamed Lakhdar-Hamina) which, in 1975 won the Palme d'or at the Cannes Festival.
The discussion of the ideas of Rachid Boujedra takes place on Thursday May 2nd at two different times and venues: the Faculty of Letters Dhar El Mahraz, 10am and the library of the French Institute, 5:30 p.m. Admission is free.