OBITUARY:Rachid Mimouni - People - News - The Independent

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
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

HR Manager - Edgware, London - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Manager - Edgware, Lon...

HR Manager - London - £40,000 + bonus

£32000 - £40000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: HR Manager (Generalist) -Old...

Talent Manager / HR Manager - central London - £50,000

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Talent / Learning & Development Mana...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week