Title

Down With the Zombie Regime: Yasmina Khadra’s "Qu’attendent les singes"

Subject Area

French and Francophone Studies

Abstract

Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul. His novel Qu’attendent les singes? (What are the Monkeys waiting for?) was inspired in part by his campaign tour through Algeria as a presidential candidate in the April, 2014 election.

This paper will examine the ways in which Khadra offers readers a riveting detective story while painting a realistic and damning picture of the rampant political corruption and chronic despair in present-day Algeria.

Qu’attendent les singes is a noir thriller, a genre in which Khadra excels. The mutilated body of a beautiful young student is found. Police commissioner Nora Bilal, an honest and competent detective, leads the investigation while battling the sexism and corruption of many of her colleagues.

The investigation leads to Saad Hamerlaine, a wealthy octogenarian rboba seemingly beyond the reach of constitutional law. He exerts power at the highest levels of government, and has great influence over the media. It isn’t difficult to see in this geriatric strongman a representative figure of “le pouvoir,” as the Algerian regime is often called.

The reader is immersed in the daily frustrations and sense of hopelessness experienced by Algerians. The desire for a better life in what should be a prosperous country is perpetually stifled by a cruel, self-interested regime and its enablers. As much roman engagé as detective novel, Qu’attendent les singes is especially relevant today as a way to understand the unprecedented, ongoing anti-government Hirak (“Movement”) in Algeria, which began in February, 2019.

Brief Bio Note

David Vanderboegh earned his Ph.D. at the Ohio State University, and is Assistant Professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures at Creighton University. His teaching interests include French and francophone literature and cinema. His current main research interest is in Algerian francophone literature.

Keywords

Yasmina Khadra, Algerian francophone literature, Algerian politics

Presentation Year

October 2020

Start Date

10-22-2020 2:55 PM

End Date

10-22-2020 3:35 PM

Embargo

12-18-2019

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Oct 22nd, 2:55 PM Oct 22nd, 3:35 PM

Down With the Zombie Regime: Yasmina Khadra’s "Qu’attendent les singes"

Yasmina Khadra is the pen name of Mohammed Moulessehoul. His novel Qu’attendent les singes? (What are the Monkeys waiting for?) was inspired in part by his campaign tour through Algeria as a presidential candidate in the April, 2014 election.

This paper will examine the ways in which Khadra offers readers a riveting detective story while painting a realistic and damning picture of the rampant political corruption and chronic despair in present-day Algeria.

Qu’attendent les singes is a noir thriller, a genre in which Khadra excels. The mutilated body of a beautiful young student is found. Police commissioner Nora Bilal, an honest and competent detective, leads the investigation while battling the sexism and corruption of many of her colleagues.

The investigation leads to Saad Hamerlaine, a wealthy octogenarian rboba seemingly beyond the reach of constitutional law. He exerts power at the highest levels of government, and has great influence over the media. It isn’t difficult to see in this geriatric strongman a representative figure of “le pouvoir,” as the Algerian regime is often called.

The reader is immersed in the daily frustrations and sense of hopelessness experienced by Algerians. The desire for a better life in what should be a prosperous country is perpetually stifled by a cruel, self-interested regime and its enablers. As much roman engagé as detective novel, Qu’attendent les singes is especially relevant today as a way to understand the unprecedented, ongoing anti-government Hirak (“Movement”) in Algeria, which began in February, 2019.