22. ilb 07. - 17.09.2022

Yasmina Khadra

Portrait Yasmina Khadra
© Hartwig Klappert

Yasmina Khadra was born Mohammed Moulessehoul in Kenadsa, in the Algerian Sahara, in 1955. Like his father, an officer in the Algerian army, he was also meant to become a member of the military and was sent to a cadet training school. He wrote his first volume of short stories, which was to appear eleven years later entitled »Houria« (1984), while at military school. Having completed his education at the Académie militaire inter-armes in Cherchell he joined the armed forces as a second lieutenant. In order to avoid a regulation, obliging members of the military to submit any written works to a censorship board prior to publication, the author meanwhile published his seventh work under the pseudonym »Commissaire Llob«. This is also the name of the protagonist in a series of detective novels written by the author in the early nineties when stationed on the Algerian-Moroccan border during the military deployment against Islamic fundamentalists. Following the publication of his first two books featuring the incorruptible, increasingly helpless police detective, who with determination uncovers the grievances of Algerian society, including corruption and cliquism, and by doing so gets between the frontlines of the Islamists and the established powerful elite, the author could only get published abroad and adopted his wife’s two first names as a pseudonym.
In 1997 he wrote the detective novel »Morituri« (Eng. 2003), which was to make him well-known in Europe, using the same pseudonym. Together with the volumes »Double Blanc« (1998; Eng. »Double Blank«, 2005) and »L’Automne des chimères« (1998; Eng. »Autumn of the Phantoms«, 2006), the book forms part of a trilogy which portrays the Algerian Civil War and its background in a manner both exciting and authentic. While the first volumes take the form of classic detective novels in their progression towards an explanation of the facts, in the final volume the portrayal of all-pervasive violence culminates in the death of the protagonist, after he is discovered as the author behind the pseudonym »Yasmina Khadra« and is suspended from service. Khadra himself managed to escape the same fate. Following the publication of two clairvoyant novels, which focus on the psychological and social causes of Islamic fundamentalism even before the events of 9/11 using precise documentary detail and emotional intensity, he gave up his post in 2000 and went into exile in the South of France with his family. One year later he cast off his pseudonym and wrote about his life as a soldier and as a writer, in his autobiography »L’Ecrivain« (2001; t: The writer).
The author has been awarded, among other prizes, the top prize of the Association des libraires algériens, the Prix du Meilleur Polar Francophone, the Prix littéraire Beur FM Mediterranée and the Prix Tropiques. He lives in Aix-en-Provence.

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