The Child of an Ancient People by Anouar Benmalek (Trans Andrew Riemer) - review by Sarah A Smith

Sarah A Smith

Escape from New Caledonia

The Child of an Ancient People


Harvill Press 245pp £10.99 order from our bookshop

A NOVEL THAT brings together a Muslim transported from his native Algeria, a young French woman unjustly deported as a Communard, and the last infant survivor of the Aborigines of Tasrn~ania is clearly the product of a wide-ranging literary imagination. But Anouar Benmalek - a maths lecturer and writer of AlgerianMoroccan birth, based in France, who lays claim to Swiss and Bavarian ancestry - is perhaps better placed than many to understand how the hazards of fortune can link disparate elements.

The Child of an Ancient People is the third ofBenmalek's five books, and his first to move away from the subject of Algeria (his only other work in English translation, The Lovers ef Algeria, focused on the country's bloody history after 1945). The story's three strands are connected by their

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