An Algerian Childhood: Collection of Autobiographical Narratives

The novel, “An Algerian Childhood”, was compiled and edited by Leila Sebbar and is rated by literary experts and readers as one of the best novels of all times. It evokes a variety of emotions. Through the eyes of a child, the world takes on a different color. Often, children’s understanding of traumatic events is underestimated and the book reflects this well documented fact. Algerian’s fought for 132 years to free themselves from the binds of the French and after succeeding in 1962, an internal battle began that touched the lives of young and old alike.

”An Algerian Childhood” is a collection of sixteen short stories that have been written by various authors that came from different social standings and expresses how they experienced their childhood in a country that was torn apart by war. It is a book that touches the hearts of everyone who reads it, as its stories recall friendships, tolerance, injustice, ignorance, innocence, betrayal and kindness. Authors such as Habib Tengour wrote “Childhood”, Alain Vircondelet who watched the terror of war from his window in “The Sources Return”. Contributions by Mallek Alloula, Helen Cixous and Mohammed Did are remarkable as each shares their own personal stories in the novel. The book is a touching collaboration of childhood autobiographies that reopens many wounds as readers will find the author’s reflections both heartbreaking and triumphant.

In one story by Helene Cixous, she writes: “children painfully force themselves to imitate ‘the child’ they never are, and, as they cannot manage this, they pretend and devote themselves to hiding their deception.” From her work, readers will be relieved to learn that most of the authors were eventually victorious and conquered, in their own way, the suffering they endured as children. However for some writers, they will carry the scars of these turbulent times throughout their lives. Each story is unique because of different social standards, religion and race. Even though the wars and turbulence that followed was viewed and lived differently from the other the stories as told through their eyes as children.

”An Algerian Childhood,” carries the reader through the innocence of a child and how that world is shattered once they have learnt the reality of their plight. How each child learns to adjust to their lives is both inspirational and heart warming. If you are interested in Algerian Society then “An Algerian Childhood” comes highly recommended as it is sure to tug at your heart as it reveals a world that some people neither understand or knew existed.