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The Child of an Ancient People by Anouar Benmalek (translated by Andrew Riemer)

Reviewed by
March 2004, no. 259
Simon Caterson reviews 'The Child of an Ancient People' by Anouar Benmalek (translated by Andrew Riemer)

The Child of an Ancient People

by Anouar Benmalek (translated by Andrew Riemer)

Harvill, $34.95 pb, 245 pp

The Child of an Ancient People by Anouar Benmalek (translated by Andrew Riemer)

Reviewed by
March 2004, no. 259

At once extravagant and tightly wrapped, this novel reinforces the view that historical fiction says as much about the present and the future as it does about the past. At the level of history proper, Anouar Benmalek’s vision unites three continents that, in the second half of the nineteenth century, are subject to the depredations of European colonialism and domestic tyranny. At the human level, his fiction is preoccupied with the bodily functions and basic needs of survival: things that never change. The broad, impersonal sweep of world history is made up of the infinitesimally small transactions of the primal scene: copulating, defecating, vomiting, bleeding, all driven by the elemental forces of fear and desire, violence and conscience.

Simon Caterson reviews 'The Child of an Ancient People' by Anouar Benmalek (translated by Andrew Riemer)

The Child of an Ancient People

by Anouar Benmalek (translated by Andrew Riemer)

Harvill, $34.95 pb, 245 pp

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