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The Year of Passages

1995
Author:

Réda Bensmaïa
Translated by Tom Conley
Afterword by Tom Conley

The Year of Passages

Straddling the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, this rich and unconventional novel provokes thought at the turn of every page. The tale is narrated by a North African author exiled to the United States because he has been condemned by religious fanatics after the publication of his novel entitled Dead Letters. Bensmaïa's knowledge of the history, the literature, and the philosophical ideas of our times underlies the novel without intruding into it directly.

Straddling the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, this rich and unconventional novel provokes thought at the turn of every page. The tale is narrated by a North African author exiled to the United States because he has been condemned by religious fanatics after the publication of his novel entitled Dead Letters. Bensmaïa's knowledge of the history, the literature, and the philosophical ideas of our times underlies the novel without intruding into it directly.

The Year of Passages forms an important contribution to the rich and growing body of the literature of exile. In addition to tackling new themes and discussing new situations, it takes language and literature to a new level of interaction. It is a valuable addition to the body of Maghribi literature as well.

Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic

Straddling the boundary between fiction and nonfiction, this rich and unconventional novel provokes thought at the turn of every page. It is a tale of exile and passage, a tale that moves in multiple directions, full of gusto and rollicking irony.

The tale is narrated by a North African author who is now living in the United States because he has been condemned by religious fanatics after the publication of his novel entitled Dead Letters. He is disillusioned with literature, and his life events are beyond his control. He can only write, and he fabricates material from trends imposed on him by the American academy.

Bensmaïa's knowledge of the history, the literature, and the philosophical ideas of our times underlies the novel without intruding into it directly. He offers, among other things, an important reflection on U.S. political culture, touching on issues ranging from foreign policy in the Middle East to the media's role in alternately demonizing Muslim cultures and fostering ignorance of them. In The Year of Passages, Bensmaïa has created a vibrant work that defies classification and promises to be a major event that compels the rethinking of the Western literary tradition.

The Year of Passages

Réda Bensmaïa, who was raised in Algeria, has published numerous articles on Francophone and film theory. He is currently professor of French and comparative literature at Brown University. He is the author of The Barthes Effect: The Essay as Reflective Text and the editor of Gilles Deleuze..

Tom Conley is professor of French and Italian at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of The Self-Made Map: Cartographical Writing in Early Modern France and Film Hieroglyphs, and has translated a number of books, including Gilles Deleuze's The Fold.

The Year of Passages

The Year of Passages forms an important contribution to the rich and growing body of the literature of exile. In addition to tackling new themes and discussing new situations, it takes language and literature to a new level of interaction. It is a valuable addition to the body of Maghribi literature as well.

Journal of the American Association of Teachers of Arabic