Intelligence Powder

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Ubu Repertory Theater Publications, 1985 - Drama - 61 pages
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About the author (1985)

The son of an Algerian Islamic lawyer of Berber origins, Kateb Yacine is one of the most enigmatic Maghrebian writers in the French language. Better known for his ambivalent and often contradictory public roles---a Communist ideologue, yet opponent of orthodox communism and a Berber ethnic nationalist---his fame as an author rests on his mythical-autobiographical novel, Nedjima (1955). This epic work was begun in 1946 and completed in 1955 after the outbreak of the Algerian War of Independence. Nedjima means "star" in Arabic; but the star is also the symbol of nationhood in many national banners, and the word also alludes to the name of the first Algerian national party, Etoile Nord-Africaine (the North African Star). In this novel, the author's subtle interweaving of situations and relationships transforms the story of a woman into a parable touching upon many of the struggles for national, racial, ethnic, and personal identity that have dominated postcolonial Algerian consciousness. Although Yacine began his writing career as a poet and went on to distinguish himself primarily as a playwright, scholarly interest in his writings has continued to focus on the novel Nedjima. Because of the reappearance of the same characters, settings, and situations from Nedjima in his plays, critics tend to see his works as constituting an epic cycle. Two years before his death in 1989, Yacine was awarded the Grand Prix National des Lettres. English translations of the works of this controversial author, who contributed greatly to the establishment of Francophonic African literature in the Maghreb, are not yet widely available.

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