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   The Watchers

The Watchers

Author: Djaout, Tahar Set In . . .
 Africa, Algeria
Genre: Fiction
Time Frame: 1980s
Published: 1991

The renowned author of The Last Summer of Reason achieved his greatest acclaim for this elegant, chilling novel, winning France's prestigious Prix Mditerrane in 1991. The Watchers is a politically and morally resonant fable of malevolent bureaucracy, thoughtless fundamentalism, and the danger of sacrificing liberty in the name of patriotism.

With equal parts sensuous prose and passionate politics, The Watchers follows the fortunes of two men during one sweltering North African summer. Menouar Ziada, a veteran on the winning side of past wars, is living out a peaceful life and dreaming of a country home. Just down his suburban street, inventor Mahfoudh Lemdjad has developed a loom that he desperately wants to patent. Unfortunately, he soon finds himself caught in a Kafka-esque tangle of forms, passports, interviews, and clerks bent on thwarting his efforts. At the same time, Mahfoudh's mysterious project and odd hours dredge up old, suspicious instincts in Menouar and his fellow veterans, drawing them inexorably further into a labyrinth of blame and fear from which there's only one escape.Algerian author Tahar Djaout has become known as a journalist and political figure since his assassination in 1993 by an Islamic fundamentalist group for the effects of his "fearsome pen." During his life, Djaout was also regarded as one of Algeria's finest novelists and the spearhead of a renaissance in native North African (Maghrebi) arts and culture. With The Watchers, readers have an opportunity to experience this incisive writer at his finest-and, at a time when American civil liberties are constantly losing out to "national security" concerns, to contemplate the dark consequences of a culture of suspicion.

Praise for The Last Summer of Reason:

"An elegiac ode to literature and a furious protest against intolerance."-The New York Times Book Review

"A chilling cautionary tale."-Philadelphia Enquirer

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