I Have Only One Language, and It Is Not Mine

BookI Have Only One Language, and It Is Not Mine

I Have Only One Language, and It Is Not Mine

A Struggle for Recognition

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures, 78


June 1st, 2023





Is it enough to write in French to be recognized as a French writer? Or does the close link which exists between French literature and the French nation prevent non-metropolitan authors from assimilating into the French world of letters? France seems to consider its language as its natural and exclusive property. And for those all over the world who share this language, it has become an object of quest, conquest, and struggle. By tracing the careers of five French-speaking Algerian writers (Kateb Yacine, Assia Djebar, Rachid Boudjedra, Boualem Sansal, and Kamel Daoud), this book explores the arduous symbolic and material negotiations faced by non-European writers who receive recognition within the French literary landscape. Moreover, as this study shows, any entry into the world of French letters is rarely complete and always tenuous. Indeed, although stylistic quality is important, other, extra-literary criteria also come into play. Successful writers may be portrayed in terms of “genius” and “talent”, but in reality, French literature appears to be based on political considerations, which define who is French and who is other.

Author Information

Kaoutar Harchi is a writer and sociologist of French literature. Alexis Pernsteiner is a literary and academic translator.