Diálogos Books Presents: Roundtable on Contemporary Francophone Writing from North Africa


Diálogos celebrates the launch of two new major North African Francophone works in English translation:

Agadir, by Mohammed Khaïr-Eddine and translated by Pierre Joris and Jake Syersak, is loosely based on the earthquake which devastated the Moroccan city of the same name in 1960, and Khaïr-Eddine’s experience as a civil servant assigned to investigate the aftermath of the cataclysm. An unnamed narrator sent to the city “in order to sort out a particularly precarious situation” tells the story of a veritably razed Moroccan epicenter and a citizenry begging for reconstruction. In a surreal, polyphonic narration that explodes into various tesserae of fiction, autobiography, reportage, poetry, and theatre, the narrator quickly discovers that in exhuming the city’s physical remnants he cannot help but exhume the complex social, political, cultural, and historical dynamics that make up postcolonial Moroccan society.

Discovery of the New World collects, for the first time in English, Algerian francophone writer Nabile Farès’ ambitious trilogy of novellas reflecting on the effects of French colonialism in North Africa. These heavily experimental works, set in the time just before and after the Algerian war with France, probe issues of identity—race, gender, nationality—in the wake of European colonialism. “The first thing that hits me every time I open or reopen one of Nabile Farès’ books,” writes Pierre Joris in the Preface, “is the immediacy of the intense struggle—simultaneously, the glorious success—of a text that stays at white heat by bending/bedding itself between what some would call the “genres” of poetry & prose.” 

We will also be joined by world-renowned poet and scholar of North African letters Habib Tengour who will read from his own work with translation by Pierre Joris, as well as contributing to the discussion.

This panel features English and some bi-lingual readings from the works with discussions among the translators and scholars of the vibrant field of contemporary North African writing.

April 11, 2021, 3:00 pm