Fiction. Literary Nonfiction. Translated by Peter Thompson. In 1970, Nabile Farès was asked to interview James Baldwin for Jeune Afrique magazine, an experience which set in motion A PASSENGER FROM THE WEST. What begins in this book as an interview with Baldwin confronting the history of Black America leads Farès into a journey through his own past. Vivid encounters in France and Spain connect with Farès's remembrances of his native Algeria, its war for independence, and the traumatizing effect it had on him as a child. The original Jeune Afrique interview with Baldwin is included as an appendix to the novel.
"It is Farès's unique sensitivity to the power of allegory that gives his work its distinctive place in Maghrebi literature. His work marks a turning point and foreshadows the tragedy to come in Algeria."—Réda Bensmaïa, Brown University
"Here, in this unique, multicultural space, Farès engages the diverse complexities of our globalized age before we even knew they existed."—Valérie K. Orlando, University of Maryland
Nabile Farès was born in Collo (Kabylia peninsula) in 1940. He was a teenager at the time of the student demonstrations and the reciprocal massacres (French forces and settlers versus the Algerians) which began the Algerian War (the war of independence, 1954-62). Farès's father sent him to France to study and to be safe. Nabile was one of the few Algerian students in Paris to choose to return to the struggle. He was on the east side of the Tunisian border where FLN (National Liberation Front and their army) camps operated when the war ended. Farès carried the manuscript of Yahia, Pas de chance, his first novel, through France and North Africa in his back pack. Yahia was published in 1970. Many Algerian writers saw the next years as a disappointment, then a betrayal. The victorious FLN became a one-party government, and a repressive one at that. The silencing of voices, an Arabization policy (Berbers are not Arabs), the discouragement of the French language, corruption, cronyism, authoritative Islam, and the receding of traditional (Berber) feminine roles are among the exactions that drove Mohammed Dib, Assia Djebar, Rachid Boudjedra, Farès and Kateb Yacine among others into exile. Worst was a collusion with neocolonial business interests (sharply outlined in A PASSENGER FROM THE WEST), and, as a dark corner within the arch of this French shadow, the adoption of French torture techniques against insurgents. All this kept most writers some of whom, like Farès, could no longer publish in Algeriain France. Most of this group died in the exile that became an indelible mark of their work (particularly Farès's novels and poetry). Farès died in Paris in August, 2016.Author City: PARIS ALG