Algeria: ‘The Art of Losing’ Lays Bare the Indignity of Being Stripped

During the Algerian War of Independence from 1954 to 1962, some Algerians, called Harkis, sided with France. After the war some of them escaped to France fearing for their lives. The Art of Losing novel by Alice Zeniter focuses on one such family.

It opens with Ali, a poor teenager. His father’s death in the 1940s makes his family’s financial situation even direr and to ease the burden, he enlists in the French army during World War II. On returning to Algeria two years later, his military pension…


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