Politics and Aesthetics of Kateb Yacine from Francophone Literature to Popular Theatre in Algeria and Outside

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A review of Kateb Yacine’s writing throughout his career. It illustrates Yacine’s intellectual journal from the literary novel through the conventional forms of drama to the creation of the authentic, popular style of performance that he took to the people. His quest for identity became comprehensible in Nedjma and was constantly being renewed and reborn throughout his works in a way that reflected the changing social conditions of Algeria as it gained independence and sought to establish itself as a nation state. The contrast between pre- and post- Independence Algeria runs through the whole book and helps the reader gain new insight into the consistency and evolution of Kateb Yacine’s work.


“Salhi does an excellent job of tracing the evolution of Yacine’s political and aesthetic ideas, from Nedjma (Paris, 1956) through the years of his permanent return to Algeria in 19971 until his death in 1989. . . . Excellent bibliography for insights into the Algerian theater. Upper-division undergraduates through professionals.” - CHOICE

“Kamal Salhi does an excellent job in showing how Yacine always refused to be confined to the boxes in which he was placed….Even more important is his long and detailed account of the practical theatre work in which Yacine involved himself after his return to Algeria in 1970….sets the work in its necessary context and demonstrates irrefutably the originality of Yacine’s approach and the inventiveness with which he was able to appropriate elements of traditional culture in the service of truly progressive theatre. Salhi is particularly interesting on the Arab storytelling tradition, the figure of Djeha, and the use to which he was put by Yacine. Moreover, when Kamal Salhi gets on to discussing the practical work he proves himself extremely good at analyzing popular festive or ritual elements and showing how they take their place in the development of Yacine’s political dramas.” – African Theatre

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