Thursday, November 4, 2010

POC Book #5: Children of the New World

There's no way I'm going to get to my goal of 10-15 books by the end of the year, but hopefully I'll get one or two more under my belt after this one...

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This novel, by a Francophone literary giant, describes a day in the Algerian war from the perspective of a number of women (and some men) in a small town that is not far from front-line fighting. I did read it in translation, so I probably missed some of the lyricism that characterizes Djebar's writing, but it was a very good translation. It read pretty quickly (it just took me awhile to finish because I kept getting distracted by other books!), and I thought Djebar did a good job of describing the point of view of different people without necessarily judging. (I say necessarily, because it's hard for me to conclude that Lila--until the very end--is anything but a self-centered ditz, Touma a self-centered jerk, and Hakim a man with a weak conscience, to name some of my least-favorite characters.)

The afterword made a big deal about Djebar adhering to all the Aristotelian unities (time, place, and action)--I could see place and action easily, but I found it hard to realize that the whole novel took place in one day--if, in fact, it did--because the characters reminisce and recount so much else. I don't think this at all takes away from the story, but it's something that struck me.

The Algerian war is often considered France's Vietnam, so reading about it from the point of view of Algerians (mostly--there are a few European characters, but certainly the author is Algerian, although she is now an exile) is definitely worthwhile. Djebar's storytelling, however, makes it an enjoyable as well as a worthwhile read.

No comments: