Title

Unburdening the White Man: Yasmina Khadra's "L'équation africaine" (2011)

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

Unburdening the White Man: Yasmina Khadra’s

L’équation africaine (2011)

Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army officer and prolific novelist. He continues to publish under the pseudonym, and has established himself as one of the best-selling French language novelists in the world. L'équation africaine (The African Equation) is one of his more recent novels, following such critically acclaimed successes as L’Attentat (The Attack, 2006) and Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (What the Day owes the Night, 2009).

This paper will examine the ways in which Khadra offers readers a gripping story while unveiling rarely examined aspects of a "ripped from the headlines" drama.

The plot of L'équation africaine revolves around Kurt Krausmann, a German physician on a private boat involved in a humanitarian aid mission that is hijacked off the coast of Somalia by pirates. Krausmann endures months of captivity and often brutal treatment. In this modern rendition of a Bildungsroman, the highly educated and cultured European faces the disturbing reality that so many of his preconceived ideas about Africa, its people, its conflicts, and western aid programs were at best merely illusions.

Khadra's novel offers an insightful analysis of the conditions that spawned modern-day piracy in the region. Who are these pirates? What motivates them to take such risks? What happens to their victims once they have been brought to shore? The reader is plunged into the chaos of an ill-defined land governed by warlords, and comes to understand the human side of these feared pirates as well as the industry that kidnapping for ransom has become. Through the first person narrative of Kurt Krausmann, the reader witnesses the initially subtle and then dramatic changes in the character, whose life is forever altered in surprising ways by his ordeal.

Brief Bio Note

Dr. David Vanderboegh is an assistant professor of French and Francophone Studies in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. His research interests are in Francophone Algerian literature, Eighteenth century French literature, and life writing.

Keywords

Algeria, Francophone, Yasmina Khadra, Terrorism

Location

Room 212

Presentation Year

2017

Start Date

3-23-2017 5:35 PM

Embargo

11-4-2016

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Mar 23rd, 5:35 PM

Unburdening the White Man: Yasmina Khadra's "L'équation africaine" (2011)

Room 212

Unburdening the White Man: Yasmina Khadra’s

L’équation africaine (2011)

Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul, a former Algerian army officer and prolific novelist. He continues to publish under the pseudonym, and has established himself as one of the best-selling French language novelists in the world. L'équation africaine (The African Equation) is one of his more recent novels, following such critically acclaimed successes as L’Attentat (The Attack, 2006) and Ce que le jour doit à la nuit (What the Day owes the Night, 2009).

This paper will examine the ways in which Khadra offers readers a gripping story while unveiling rarely examined aspects of a "ripped from the headlines" drama.

The plot of L'équation africaine revolves around Kurt Krausmann, a German physician on a private boat involved in a humanitarian aid mission that is hijacked off the coast of Somalia by pirates. Krausmann endures months of captivity and often brutal treatment. In this modern rendition of a Bildungsroman, the highly educated and cultured European faces the disturbing reality that so many of his preconceived ideas about Africa, its people, its conflicts, and western aid programs were at best merely illusions.

Khadra's novel offers an insightful analysis of the conditions that spawned modern-day piracy in the region. Who are these pirates? What motivates them to take such risks? What happens to their victims once they have been brought to shore? The reader is plunged into the chaos of an ill-defined land governed by warlords, and comes to understand the human side of these feared pirates as well as the industry that kidnapping for ransom has become. Through the first person narrative of Kurt Krausmann, the reader witnesses the initially subtle and then dramatic changes in the character, whose life is forever altered in surprising ways by his ordeal.