Mouloud Mammeri: L’Opium et le Bâton [Opium and the Stick]


The latest addition to my website is Mouloud Mammeri‘s L’Opium et le Bâton [Opium and the Stick]. This novel reflects Mammeri’s own experiences in the FLN. It is an exciting story of a remote village, Tala, and four siblings from that village and how they react to the French occupation. The youngest, Ali, has joined the FLN and we follow his exploits in the FLN throughout the book. His oldest brother, Belaid, now collaborates with the French and does well out of it. The second brother, Bachir, is, initially, a doctor in Algiers, wondering how he can break off his relationship with a French woman, Claude, who is pregnant. However, he gets caught up in the conflict and becomes the doctor for the FLN in the Tala region. Their sister, Farroudja, a widow, though being criticised for only being a girl, by her mother, does her bit and assists the FLN. The French come out as cruel, vicious, ruthless and murderous, while the Algerians, except for a few collaborators, come out as generally heroic and brave, standing up to the French, at least in this book, in what seems to be a losing cause. Mammeri keeps up the excitement level and makes no pretence at objectivity. Sadly, the book has not been translated into English.

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