Sansal, Boualem

Tagged: Author

(1949-    ) Algerian engineer, government official and author. His books have been banned in his native land (where he continues to live) since 2006, apparently for their ruthlessly secular and internationalist approach to complex political, moral and religious dilemmas, an angle of vision signalled in his first novel, Le Serment des barbares ["The Barbarians' Oath"] (1999), a detective novel in which Algeria is seen still locked in the abyss of its colonial experience (see Imperialism). Though not literally fantastic, Le Village de L'Allemand ou Le Journal de Freres Schiller (2008; trans Frank Wynne as The German Mujahid 2009) is notable for being perhaps the first Arab novel significantly to address the Holocaust (see Holocaust Fiction).

Sansal is of sf interest for 2084: La fin du monde (2015; trans Alison Anderson as 2084: The End of the World 2017), which won the Grand Prix du Roman de l'Académie française; specifically homaging George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), it depicts a Dystopian planet dominated by a fundamentalist Religion which after its military triumphs has imposed a worldwide Amnesia blotting out all prior history. The extremities of cruelty and dogma of the followers of Yölah clearly represent an extrapolation from early twenty-first century Islamist fundamentalism. No atheists or homosexuals are permitted to live. Christian females are treated as prostitutes; but women, whether or not Christian, fare little better (see Feminism). One of the protagonists, a young woman, dreams of escaping to America. [JC]

Boualem Sansal

born Théniet El Had, Tissemsilt, Algeria: 15 October 1949

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