23. ilb 06. – 16.09.2023
Portrait Abdelouahab Aissaoui
© Bilal Ouahchi

Abdelouahab Aissaoui

Abdelouahab Aissaoui was born in Djelfa, Algeria in 1985, studied electromechanics at the university there, and works as a maintenance engineer.

He made his literary debut in 2012 with the book »Jacob’s Cinema«. His second novel, »Mountain of Death«, tells the story of Spanish communists who were imprisoned in North African camps after their loss in the civil war. This novel was awarded the Assia Djebar Prize, the most important award in Algeria for best novel. In 2016, he took part in a writing workshop for talented people from the Arabic-speaking world organized by the IPAF (International Prize for Arabic Fiction). He received the Kuwaiti Suad al-Sabah Novel Prize for his third novel, »Circles and Doors« (2017). He also won the literary prize in the category of unpublished novels for »Testament of the Deeds of the Forgotten Ones«, which was awarded the Katara Prize in the category of unpublished novels. Abdelouahab Aissaoui was awarded the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2020 for »The Spartan Court« (2018). Not only was he the first Algerian author to win this award, it was also the first time that it was awarded for a historical novel. The award-winning work of this most prestigious award is also translated into English in order to help it achieve international recognition. The chairman of the IPAF jury, Muhsin al-Musawi, particularly emphasized the »stylistic brilliance« of the work. The novel is set in Algeria at the beginning of the 19th century. Drawing from multiple perspectives, it provides a multi-faceted insight into the time of the French occupation. The stories of five figures are followed from 1815 to 1833. The French characters include journalist Dupond, reporting from Algiers and Caviard, a former soldier of the Napoleonic army who finds himself a prisoner in the city. The Algerian figures have different attitudes towards the Ottoman and French colonial powers: Ibn Mayyar trusts in politics as a suitable means of building relationships with the occupiers. Hamma al-Sallaoui, on the other hand, considers revolution to be the only way to achieve change. The fifth figure, Douja, experiences change in Algiers with growing helplessness: either you live by the rules of the city or you leave it.

Abdelouahab Aissaoui also writes short stories. He lives in Djelfa, Algeria.


Jacob’s Cinema

Dar Vescera

Algier, 2012


Mountain of Death

Dar el saqi

Libanon, 2015


Circles and Doors

Dar suad al sabah/dar Mim

Kuwait/Algier, 2017


Testament of the Deeds of the Forgotten Ones


Katar, 2018


The Spartan Court

Dar Mim

Algier, 2018