Rabah Belamri: Le Soleil sous le tamis [The Sun Under the Screen]


The latest addition to my website is Rabah Belamri‘s Le Soleil sous le tamis [The Sun Under the Screen]. This is an autobiographical novel of the author’s childhood in an Algerian village during the 1950s. Belamri is such an accomplished writer that what could have been a pedestrian account works very well. He divides his novel into the various aspects of his life and the life of the village, such as what happens during Ramadan and what happens during Eid, the Thursday market day (his father is a not very successful market trader), children’s games, the life and activities of his two parents and, of course, sex. However this is the period of the Algerian War. While the war does not dominate the book, it certainly is a key feature. Before the war, we meet the dominant French landowner, who treats the Algerians brutally. We see his ferocious and cruel reaction when there is an attack on his life and we finally see his death, which the author witnesses. We also see the cruelty of the French soldiers – Belamri is certainly not impartial in his descriptions. We also see how the games of the children change to being more war-like after 1954, when the war started. Much of the book, however, is a joyous, almost lyrical description of life in a small Algerian village, which Belamri describes superbly. This book is not available in English, nor in any other language except for Arabic, and nor is it likely to be, though his later autobiographical novel Regard blessé has been published in English as Shattered Vision.

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