OBITUARY:Rachid Mimouni

The death of the Algerian writer Rachid Mimouni at the age of 49 has cut short a brilliant literary career.

Mimouni had been living in Morocco for the past two years, having gone there when life in Algeria became intolerable for intellectuals, and especially for those who openly condemn social and political conditions in the country. His literary reputation was established in 1982 after the appearance of his novel Le Fleuve detourne ("The Diverted River"), the first of his works to be published in France. In a relatively short time he secured a position as one of the most widely read Francophone writers of this century.

Rachid Mimouni was born in 1945, near Algiers. He went to Algiers University where he graduated in 1968 with a degree in sciences. He worked at the Institute of Industrial Development before going to Montreal for further study. He returned to Algeria two years later to embark on a teaching career. When his literary reputation was established, he gave up teaching to concentrate on writing.

His first two novels, published in Algeria, have been overshadowed by his later masterpieces, most of which have won literary prizes and been translated into different languages, including English. Yet anyone familiar with his work can detect in this early novels the signs of a writer who would one day make his mark. In his second novel to be published in Algeria, Une Paix vivre (1983, "A Peace to Live With"), he portrays a group of young Algerians who, having grown up in a war-torn country, try to cope with life in peacetime. In his subsequent novels, published in France, he condemns those in power who squander the wealth of nations, and oppressors who erode the freedom of others.

Throughout his life Mimouni stressed the important task of the writer as the spokesperson for those unable to speak for themselves. He often stated that he believed in "freedom, justice and love" for all. He warned against fundamentalism, and gives reasons for its rise and popularity in some of this works, notably a non-fictional work, De la barbarie en general et de l'integrisme en particulier (1992, "Barbarism in General and Fundamentalism in Particular"), and in his last published novel, La Malediction (1993, "The Misfortune").

Mimouni published seven novels and a collection of short stories, La Ceinture de l'ogresse (1990), translated into English as The Ogre's Embrace. His other work to appear in an English translation is L'Honneur de la tribu (1989, The Honour of the Tribe). In spite of the fact that nearly all the novels and short stories are set in Algeria, the majority, and especially his later works, have a universal appeal and relevance. One of his most successful novels, Une Peine vivre (1991, "A Life Hard to Bear"), is set in a fictitious place. The work is a disturbing and vivid account of the rise to power and eventual demise of a ruthless dictator in an unidentified oil-producing country, once ruled by a Western superpower. The events of the novel are depicted from the point of view of the dictator himself, and the novel opens as he is about to be executed after having been deposed. The author probes the mind of the dictator, trying to understand the motivating force behind his cruelty.

In an earlier novel, Tombeza (1984), Mimouni had tried to analyse the thoughts and actions of another much-hated character, the eponymous Tombeza. The events in that novel take place in a hospital, the setting of La Malediction. In this, his last work, the hospital has a special significance, as it is the place where people come into the world and leave it. In retrospect, this seems sadly prophetic, as it was in a hospital bed, in Paris, of acute viral hepatitis, that Mimouni died.

Farida Abu-Haidar

Rachid Mimouni, writer: born Boudouaou, Algeria 20 November 1945; died Paris 12 February 1995.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific