Obituary: Tahar Djaout
Tuesday 08 June 1993
Born in Azeffoun, in Greater Kabylia, Djaout grew up in Algiers in a Berber-speaking home. By the time he began his secondary education, he was fluent in Arabic, Berber and French. At Algiers University he studied mathematics and wrote poetry. While still a student he published his first collection of poetry, Solstice Barbele (1975).
After graduating in 1976, Djaout pursued a career in journalism, and joined the staff of the official French- language weekly newspaper Algerie- Actualite. He became editor-in-chief some years later, a post he held until his death. In January, he co-founded a weekly newspaper, Ruptures.
It is primarily for his novels that Djaout will be remembered. His first, L'Exproprie, published in Algeria in 1981, and reprinted in France in 1991, is not so much a work of fiction as 'a slice of life'. It tackles the themes of language and identity, both pressing issues in post-independence Algeria, where, after more than a century of French rule, Algerians found themselves at the crossroads between Arabo-Berber and Franco-European cultures. Like other Algerian writers before him, Djaout, in this novel, expresses feelings of bitterness at being deprived of his heritage and language.
His second novel, Les Chercheurs d'os (1984), won him international acclaim. Published in France, it describes an Algeria expending every effort to commemorate those who died in the war of independence 'while making life impossible for the living'. In his next novel, L'Invention du desert (1987), Djaout warned against despots, religious fanatics and all those who do not recognise human rights and individual freedom. His fourth and last novel, Les Vigiles (1991), for which he was awarded the much-coveted French literary prize the Prix Mediterranee, is set in present-day Algiers, and describes a world dogged with bureaucracy and lack of respect for the individual.
Tahar Djaout was a man of great charm, generosity and sense of humour. His untimely death at the age of 39 has robbed Algerian literature of one of its best voices. He was shot in the head - by suspected Moslem fundamentalists - while on his way to work on 26 May, and went into a coma. He died a week later without regaining consciousness. Perhaps the following lines from a poem he wrote more than 20 years ago would serve as a fitting epitaph:
From now on
Your bullets will cause no fear
As I walk into the shadow of your
Tahar Djaout, writer and journalist: born Azeffoun, Kabylia, Algeria 11 January 1954; died Algiers 2 June 1993.
Look beyond the usual shows for the best festive telly
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
Latest in News
Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
Lee Rigby murder: How killers Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale became ultra-violent radicals
Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
Paul Walker death caused by speed alone
Apollo Theatre collapse: Scores injured after ceiling collapses in London's West End
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 North Koreans are gasping for the truth: Let's give it to them
- 3 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 4 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 5 Cycle death inquest: Boyfriend hugs driver of 32 tonne tipper truck that killed his girlfriend
- < Previous
- Next >
£22800 - £33600 per annum: Randstad Education Manchester Secondary: Geography ...
Competitive: Nielsen: We are seeking an enthusiastic intern with a passionate ...
£23 - £30 per hour: Morgan Hunt: A fantastic opportunity has arisen within a c...