Welcome to Travel Readings
Melbourne: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Books, Movies and Beyond…
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Washington, DC and New York
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Rome
Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca
Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Liège (Belgium): Pedigree by Georges Simenon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Lisbon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Cambodia
Hyde Park, Chicago: Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Paris: Flowers of Ruin and Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Tanzania
Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Books, Movies and Beyond… : Venice
Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce
Books, Movies and Beyond: Iran
Santa Cruz, Bolivia: The Matter of Desire (Materia del Deseo) by Edmundo Paz Soldán
Books, Movies and Beyond: Syria
Djibouti: Passage of Tears (Passage des Larmes) by Abdourahman Waberi
Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: The Parachute Drop by Norbert Zongo
Bangkok: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker
Books, Movies and Beyond: Brussels
Naples: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Books, Movies and Beyond: Rio de Janeiro
Tajikistan: Hurramabad by Andrei Volos
New-York: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Israel and Palestine: To the End of the Land by David Grossman and Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Books, Movies and Beyond: Bavaria and Southern Germany
Cape Town: Boyhood, Youth and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
Books, Movies and Beyond: India
Blue Ridge Mountains: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria
Austrian Alps: A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) by Robert Seethaler
Books, Movies and Beyond: Africans in America
Zimbabwe: The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Books, Movies and Beyond: Colombia
Belgian Ardennes: The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Côte d’Ivoire: Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Japan: Haruki Murakami and Amélie Nothomb
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Rope and The Denial of Saint Peter by Charles Baudelaire
Books, Movies and Beyond: Cairo
Vancouver: What is Remembered by Alice Munro
Ghent (Belgium): War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Haiti: An Aroma of Coffee and Dining with the Dictator by Dany Laferrière and The Comedians by Graham Greene
Iceland: Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Siena and Tuscany : Il Palio delle contrade morte by Fruttero & Lucentini and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
China : Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Amsterdam: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
Père Lachaise Cemetery, Paris
Former Soviet Union: The Unwomanly Face of War  by Svetlana Alexievich
Provence: The Horseman on the Roof by Jean Giono, La charrette bleue by René Barjavel, Madame de Sévigné and Ventoux by Bert Wagendorp
Moscow: The House of Government by Yuri Slezkine, The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov and Limonov by Emmanuel Carrère
Books, Movies and Beyond: Vietnam

Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria

Muriel, who lives in Algeria, asked me for some reading tips for young Algerians starting to read in French. I only know the country from for 3-4 days spent in Algiers, but I enjoyed the challenge and read a few novels.



An Algerian author who has been quite successful is Yasmina Khadra. Contrary to what his pseudonym suggests, he is a man, a former military officer who used his wife’s first names to avoid military censorship. I read “What the Day Owes the Night” and I really enjoyed this book describing the mixed feelings and hesitations of a young Algerian who received a French style education during the Independence War. It is also a moving love story made of missed opportunities, things left unsaid and regrets.



« What the Day Owes the Night » has been adapted in a very nice movie by Alexandre Arcady. It displays Algeria’s wonderful landscapes and atmospheres while giving life to the tormented characters in Khadra’s novel.

What the Day Owes the Night from UK Jewish Film on Vimeo.

“Maman died today. Or yesterday maybe, I don’t know”. Those are the famous first lines of « The Stranger (L’Etranger) » sometimes also translated as “The Outsider” by Albert Camus who probably is the most celebrated writer born in Algeria. « The Plague (La Peste) » takes place in Oran while « L’Etranger », the novel of the absurd, is set around Algiers.

thestranger theplague

Algiers and its harbor

Algiers and its harbor

Kamel Daoud is an Algerian journalist and writer who has recently offered a counterpoint to Camus’ “L’Etranger” in “The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, Contre-Enquête)”. Meursault, Camus’ main character, kills an Arab on the beach, without any apparent reason, “because of the sun”. The victim remains nameless. Daoud, gives him a name, Musa, and let his brother, Harun, tell us many years later the story from his viewpoint. The contrast between the two novels is very interesting, and I suggest (re)reading “L’Etranger” before getting into the story of the same drama “as seen by the Arabs”.


There are two graphic novels set in Algeria which I enjoyed. None of them has been translated in English. The first one is “Azrayen” by Lax and Giroud which tells a love story between a French conscript and an Algerian teacher in a small mountain village during the Independence War, “the unnamed war” which still rarely discussed in France. The story is in part inspired by the experience and letters sent by Giroud’s father while he served in Algeria.



The other graphic novel I liked very much is «Carnets d’Orient » by Jacques Ferrandez, born in Algiers, in which the plot follows Algeria’s history from the beginning of the colonial period until Independence, in two long cycles of 5 volumes each. Ferrandez also made a graphic adaptation of « L’Etranger » by Camus.



Thank you very much to Muriel de Failly for her superb pictures.



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