Chouaki, Aziz 1955-

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Chouaki, Aziz 1955-

PERSONAL:

Born 1955, in Algiers; exiled to France in 1991; children: a son. Education: Attended University of Algiers. Hobbies and other interests: Playing guitar.

ADDRESSES:

Home—France. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer, poet, and playwright. Former guitarist in rock bands.

WRITINGS:

Argo (poèmes/nouvelles), Éditions L'Unité (Alger, Algeria), 1982.

Baya, Laphomic (Alger, Algeria), 1988.

L'Étoile d'Alger: roman, Marsa éditions (Alger, Algeria), 1998, translation by Ros Schwartz and Lulu Norman published as The Star of Algiers: A Novel, Graywolf Press (Saint Paul, MN), 2005.

Passez à l'orange! tentatives d'écritures, Athéna (Clermont-Ferrand, France), 1999.

Les Oranges (novel), Éditions Mille et Une Nuits (Paris, France), 1999.

Les Oranges (play), produced at the Théâtre de la cité internationale in Paris, France, 1999.

Aigle, Gallimard jeunesse (Paris, France), 2000.

El Maestro: tapuscrit du texte, Théâtrales (Paris, France), 2000.

Harissa, ou, Le père indigne (play), produced at the Gare au Théâtre, France, 2000.

El maestro suivi de les oranges, Theatrales, 2001.

(With Bruno Hadjih) Avoir 20 ans à Alger, Alternatives (France), 2001.

Une virée: [theater], Balland (Paris, France), 2003.

Arobase: roman, Balland (Paris, France), 2004.

Nadia Ferroukhi: photographe, Éditions de l'Oeil (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 2005.

Also author of the plays Boudin-Purée, 1996; Le Père Indigne, 1999; Bazar, 1999; Le Trésor, 2000; ZLe Portefeuille, 2001; Une enfance outremer, 2001; Les Villes invisibles,; Poussières d'Ange; L'arrêt de bus, 2003; Les coloniaux, 2006. Author of the radio plays Fruits de Mer, Radio Suisse Romande, 1993, and Brisants de Mémoire, France Culture, 1996.

ADAPTATIONS:

The Star of Algiers is being adapted for film.

SIDELIGHTS:

An Algerian writer who lives in France, Aziz Chouaki is the author of novels, plays, and poetry. The Star of Algiers: A Novel, the first of Chouaki's novels to be published in English, tells the story of Moussa Massy, a young man living in Algiers in the 1990s. Frustrated at his inability to strike out on his own, Moussa, who still lives with his large family, eventually begins to make an impact singing traditional Algerian music but adding a modern pop sensibility to it. Soon Moussa is free from the family and has a girlfriend. However, when Islamic fundamentalists begin to take control, Moussa's career dissolves and he begins to descend into depression and madness. With his life paralleling the fall of Al- giers to religious fanatics, Moussa ultimately gives up his dream of being a musician and joins the Muslim fundamentalists.

"The Star of Algiers is a short, brilliant book with enormous relevance to current crises," wrote Peter Whittaker in the New Internationalist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to The Star of Algiers as "a chilling portrait of painful attempts to reconcile past colonial sins with crying present needs." Several reviewers also praised the author's writing style. Deborah Donovan, writing in Booklist, noted that Chouaki's "use of clipped dialogue and disjointed sentences perfectly matches Moussa's frantic attempt to escape … Fundamentalism." Lawrence Olszewski commented in the Library Journal that the author "writes in a vivacious, telegraphic style that clearly delineates both the Algerian entertainment underworld and the asphyxiating totalitarianism of fanaticism."

Chouaki told CA: "When I was a teen, I was fond of the French poet Arthur Rimbaud. I started to write love poems, dedicated to girls in my neighbourhood. It didn't work, of course; I didn't get any girl with poetry. But it allowed me to carry on with writing poems, and later novels and plays.

"The main influence in my work is James Joyce, especially Ulysses, which is still my favorite book. British literature has influenced me a lot. Among many others, I like William Blake and Shakespeare. As far as French writers are concerned, [François] Rabelais, [Charles] Baudelaire, and [Louis-Ferdinand] Céline, are amongst my favorite writers.

"I prefer writing by night, when everybody is asleep. I get a sensation of magic, all my mental barriers seem to vanish. I feel much more free."

When asked the most surprising thing he has learned as a writer, Chouaki said: "The possibility for an author to disguise himself into another identity, as if he wears a mask. This sensation is very strange, and very close to the world of theatre.

"I hope that my book may open the mind and the heart of the readers, because to a certain extent, a book is a link between human beings."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, December 15, 2004, Deborah Donovan, review of The Star of Algiers: A Novel, p. 707.

Kirkus Reviews, November 15, 2004, review of The Star of Algiers, p. 1060.

Library Journal, December 1, 2004, Lawrence Olszewski, review of The Star of Algiers, p. 98.

New Internationalist, November 1, 2006, Peter Whittaker, review of The Star of Algiers, p. 27.

Publishers Weekly, November 29, 2004, review of The Star of Algiers, p. 23.

ONLINE

Aziz Chouaki Home Page,http://www.azizchouaki.com (July 27, 2007), "Aziz Chouaki Speaks."

Serpent's Tail,http://www.serpentstail.com/ (June 23, 2007), "Aziz Chouaki Speaks."