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Lacunae, erasure, and the impossibility of bearing witness in Boualem Sansal's Le Village de l'Allemand (2008)

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Le Village de l'Allemand ou Le journal des frères Schiller (2008), the prizewinning Algerian author Boualem Sansal's fifth novel originally published in France, confronts major historical events of the twentieth century: the French occupation of Algeria, the Holocaust, the Algerian War of Independence and Civil War in the 1990s, as well as the banlieues in modern day France. Taking the form of two diaries written by half-German, half-Algerian brothers in the aftermath of discovering their father was a Nazi, the novel sets up testimonies and witnessing by proxy. Putting 'Islamism' and Nazism in contact with one another, Sansal's novel finds a wide audience in translation. Called The German Mujahid and marketed in the United States as 'The first Arab novel to confront the Holocaust', the novel brings together guilt, collaboration, and atonement in a way that ultimately reveals the dangers of history and testimony under erasure, and the impossibility of bearing witness.
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Keywords: Algeria; Boualem Sansal; Islamism; Muselmann; bearing witness; the Holocaust

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: State University of New York

Publication date: 2011-12-19

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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