What would happen if Algeria invaded France?
France, autumn 2001 to spring 2002. The Djemaï family lives in a school in a small town near Dijon. Mother Zohra is the caretaker. Aïcha soon to be fourteen, only attends classes by the hour. Father Kemal is as good as invisible, he works in a chemical factory and has been on night shifts for almost twenty years.
Son Mouloud, a sturdy seventeen year old, is totally crazy, unable to go to school. His life revolves around football, he commands invisible players with his referee whistle and spreads himself out as Oliver Kahn, Gilberto Silva, Pape Bouba Diop in front of admirers who only he can perceive. He lives by rules that nobody understands, but seems happy about it. He is safe in his family, who do everything to protect him.
His sister is often angry with him and annoyed by his idiotic ideas, but she loves him. He can read, has a brilliant memory, but everything just gets mixed up for him.
Mother Zohra knows all the students, likes to chat with the teachers and treats everyone as he expects her to do. To the annoyance of her daughter, she often plays stupid. She speaks French better than some of the pupil's parents and deliberately makes speech defects with them. Aïcha knows that Zohra graduated from high school in Algeria and wanted to study. She is annoyed by Zohra's submissive adaptation. Aïcha is exempt from class due to epileptic seizures and takes part in distance learning. Only her parents and the French teacher know that she is preparing for high school - at fourteen! Aïcha observes the people around her with finesse and energy. She secretly opens mail, listens to phone calls and learns that some friendly behavior towards her family is wrong. It hides suspicion, prejudice, rejection. Aïcha, on the other hand, hides from everyone that she no longer takes her medication and is actually cured.
The anti-Arab sentiment is influenced by Le Pen and his supporters. The Djemaï family can no longer overlook this and so Zohra finally decides to tell Aïcha her story on tape. She tells of the smart girl in Algeria who can go to school with the help of the money from her siblings who have emigrated. She tells of the sad end of all plans. Bearded men - sick in faith - take power in the idyllic village and spread fear and horror. Zohra is no longer allowed to do anything, is married, has two children, whose father works in France and who cannot bring them home. When Mouloud's school is destroyed by a bomb, Zohra goes on a long escape. She finally came to France via Tunisia and Italy. Mouloud survived the explosion unharmed, but he's crazy - and Aïcha has seizures.
A depressing fate is brought close to readers here. This short novel is funny, bizarre and lively. The view of what is happening is alert, critical and full of attention.
Life in the caretaker's apartment and in school is told chronologically in chapters that are headed October, November, etc. The reader is amused by the sports teacher who, sitting on her broad buttocks, chases the students across the square, and follows Mouloud's daring actions that irritate and make people laugh.
Zohra's stories are placed between these chapters. Here speaks clearly a clever woman who had locked away her memories in order to survive. You can feel pain, sadness, despair and the will to offer the children a different life. She never wanted to burden her daughter. She should grow up carefree in wonderful France.
But now Zohra overcomes herself because she realizes that there is also danger in France. Aïcha should know where she comes from. You should be vigilant and attentive.
Aïcha loves her mother and yet can hardly understand what she is telling her - her life is so unimaginable. Marry a man you don't know! To be locked up as defenseless U.Nperson! Given from parent to in-laws, doomed to addiction! Only the birth of the son gives back a little space. No, she doesn't love her husband the way you know it from films, says Zohra, but without him she would die. Aïcha doesn't understand any of this.
A wonderful story, entertaining, amusing, touching and brand new. It is set in France, but you can easily imagine it in any European country. People like Zohra and her family can be found everywhere if you look closely.
Jean-Paul Nozière, born in 1943, taught history and geography for ten years, including in Algeria for two years. He has published more than 30 novels in France. There he is considered a master of the political novel for young people. For Maboul à zéro (totally crazy) he received the 2005 prix dès lycéens allemands. The aim of the award is to introduce German high school students to contemporary French literature. The author can use the prize money for the translation. He did it. Not only high school students will be for totally crazy interested.
The original edition is also available from Klett for German students. There is still German from Jean-Paul Nozière: An Algerian summer, Hammer Verlag, the story of a friendship between an Algerian and a French boy that broke up in 1958 because of the political developments in Algeria. Me and the killer, Aare Verlag, is a detective novel for readers aged 12 and over.
(c) for the photo from the author / publisher
(pfg for the AJuM of the GEW)
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