Modern Foreign Languages Faculty Work


The Maghreb’s New Publishing House: Les Éditions Barzakh and the Stakes of Localized Publishing

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Contemporary French and Francophone Studies

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In the introduction to his 1968 book Le Roman maghrébin, Abdelkabir Khatibi writes, “l’écrivain maghrébin est désormais confronté avec les problèmes de sa société” (10). He continues, “Tous ces textes, différents par le ton, comportent une caractéristique commune: ces écrivains étaient convaincus de leur mission et de leur message. Ils entendaient exprimer le drame d'une société en crise” (11). Throughout the book, Khatibi insists on, and theorizes, the relationships among the Maghrebian novel, novelist, and society. In the wake of independence, many novelists in the Maghreb were writing as a form of nation-building. Certainly, Khatibi was quite aware of the importance of the conditions under which the Maghrebian novelist was working at the time; so, too, was he considering the problems to which the Maghrebian novel was responding. Almost fifty years later, however, scholars are reconsidering the question of the Maghrebian novel, asking such questions as: What is the roman maghrébin doing? Is it different from any other kind of novel? If so, how?

In this article, I examine the stakes of localized publication of contemporary Maghrebian literature, a phenomenon that speaks to nascent aesthetic and cultural de-centering in a very real way. In this article, I specifically consider les éditions barzakh in Algiers in order to understand the role that localized publishing plays in the region, with the potential to nuance our reading of the roman maghrébin itself. This paper on the symbolic, material, and linguistic complexities of the "indigenous" publishing house in the Maghreb tells, and theorizes, the story of the roman maghrébin in a novel way.



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