The Star of Algiers by Aziz Chouaki

The Star of Algiers

Aziz Chouaki

The rise and fall of Massa Moussy is an intense riff of a novel - once you start you'll not draw breath till you reach the end. There's no discussion, no commentary, you're straight into Massa's ambitions, views and experiences. This is contemporary Algeria and the clashes of western and fundamentalist beliefs, of self and family, of religion and politics are everywhere. But it's Massa's voice that pulls you in to a fast, provocative read.


By the fourth number he's Hendrix: he plays the mandola behind his head, on his knees, the crowd's ecstatic. Then it's the break, Moussa's in front of the mirror, checking his kohl, his teeth, his tie, his make-up. Everyone's congratulating him, that was amazing, thankyou. The bridegroom, wearing a tuxedo and white burnous, comes over in person to thank him. Moussa wishes him joy and lots of children. In the mirror, Moussa looks himself in the eye. He can see into the far distance, a faint green glimmer at the back of the cave. The smell of certain, early fame. Yess, he's away.

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