Bab El-Oued

Translator: Angela M. Brewer Publisher: Lynne Rienner Place of Publication: Algeria Date of Publication: 1998 Language: French ISBN: 0-89410-860-3 Author: Allouache, Merzak

Life among the denizens of a poor neighbourhood in Algiers, Bab el-Oued, was the subject of Algerian director Allouache’s 1993 film of the same name. In this first novel, he elaborates on those affecting, everyday stories. Amid economic and political decline in the district, Islamic extremism gains appeal, evidenced by the pervasive sermons of Imam Rabah broadcast from loudspeakers throughout the apartment complexes. One young man, Boualem, sick of the Imam’s heated diatribes against uncleanliness, dismantles a loudspeaker; in another apartment, sheltered women starved for stimulation from the outside world secretly share a library of Harlequin romances that one woman’s husband secures from abroad. The religious fervour takes root among otherwise disenfranchised young men whose theoretical ideas are soon corrupted by the violence of their desires. Though united by its struggle to resist despair and despite the losses caused by drugs, disease and death, the community is–predictably–corroded by an idealism that fosters naivet