Conversation with Zahia Rahmani

France, Story of a Childhood Zahia Rahmani, in conversation with Madeleine Dobie

This moving tale of imprisonment and escape, persecution and loss, is narrated by the daughter of an alleged Harki, an Algerian soldier who fought for the French during the Algerian War for Independence. It was the fate of such men to be twice exiled, first in their homeland after the war, and later in France, where fleeing Harki families sought refuge but instead faced contempt, discrimination, and exclusion. Zahia Rahmani blends reality and imagination, offering a fictionalized version of her own family’s struggle. While she delves deeply into the past, she also indicts present-day France and Algeria. From the unique perspective of the daughter of an accused Harki, she examines France’s complex history with its former colony. She makes a stirring plea for understanding between generations and cultures, and especially for an end to the destructive practice of condemning children for their fathers’ actions and beliefs.

France, Récit d’une enfance has been translated into English by Yale University Press (2016), under the title France, Story of a Childhood.

Zahia Rahmani was born in Algeria in 1962, and now lives in Paris. She currently directs a research program at the Institut national d’histoire de l’art and is Global Faculty in Residence at NYU. She is the author of Moze, “Musulman” Roman and France, Récit d’une enfance.

This event is featured as part of “le Français dans tous ses états”, a series of events supported by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S.

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