In the noise of the world, with Mabrouck Rachedi

It was by publishing, in 2006, his first novel The Weight of a Soul, a jubilant moral story, that Mabrouck Rachedi became famous. His new opus, Tous les mots qu’on n’est pas dits, is a family story inspired by the story of Algerian immigration to France, against the background of the far right’s inexorable rise. Through his hero’s quest for identity, the novelist manages on these pages to convey the atmosphere of an era, its threats and its poetry.

Journalist, host of writing workshops, essayist, novelist, short story writer, author for young people, the French-Algerian Mabrouk Raachedi is a man with many talents. Author of a dozen books, he has just published his new novel Tous les mots qu’on n’est pas dits, an autofiction story, serious and tender at the same time.

For Mabrouk Rachedi, writing is an antidote to the stress of modern life. “My books are my way of putting my voice in the noise of the world,” he gladly repeats. And to explain: “I think we are saturated with information today. We are sometimes asked to react very quickly to events. Writing novels allows you to master the pace and form a peaceful voice in relation to this agitation. That is also why, in addition to my journalistic activities, I also like to take this time, this time when I am master of the fates of my characters. It is truly a privileged way to be outside of time and outside of this life and movement. »

Desire to writeMabrouk Rachedi’s Life is a novel, rich in changes and twists. Born in France into a family of Algerian origin, the future novelist grew up in a suburb of Paris, within a large family. He owes his calling as a writer to his father, who, while illiterate himself, pushed his children towards reading and study so that, he said, they were “better than the French.”

For the young Mabrouck, the path to the realization of parental desires went through the reading of the classics, including Le Père Goriot by Balzac. The author says that he was “dazzled by the language and the power of storytelling” by the great master of the French novel. “It made me want to write,” he recalls. The draft of his first novel actually originates from these teenage years, but the desire to write will not last long in the face of the burning ambition to succeed socially and professionally. Son of an immigrant worker, the teenager had revenge to take on society.

“We came from rather modest social strata and I ran after what I did not have: money. And I became a financial analyst at a brokerage firm. At one point, the question of meaning came to me. Yes, I make money. And after? So I called the teenager in me and he told me to continue with this novel that I started writing several years ago. That’s how I started writing The Weight of a Soul, my first novel.

Initiating storyThis “question of meaning” is at the heart of Mabrouck Rachedi’s new novel, which is both a family story inspired by the immigrant’s family’s immigration experience and a story of a quest for identity. This mission is embodied by the narrator character Malik, the youngest son in the Arsaoui family, whose novel tells the story of the author’s adventures and literary doubles. Like the author, Malik has also risked his lucrative career in the financial world to devote himself to writing.

The plot in All the words we did not say is built around the mother’s character, she had once defied the ancestral tradition of marrying the man she loved. Her husband Mohand, who has been a worker in Paris since the 1950s, will in turn take her to France after the Algerian War of Independence. Together, they will raise their ten children in a city in the large suburbs of Paris, in light of the inevitable growth of the far right. Nothing illustrates this “lepenization” of the senses in France in the 1980s and 90s better than the election of an alternate for the son of Mohand’s closest colleague, under the colors of the National Front. True soul brothers, Gérard and Mohand used to work together for CGT and sang L’Internationale on top, sometimes until late at night!

Rachedi is an outstanding narrator and delivers with Tous les mots qu’on n’est pas dit a poetic, often nostalgic story, told in a skilfully organized narrative disorder. The story begins in the media res. Mohand died a long time ago. His children prospered, married and became parents in turn.

The story begins on September 29, 2005, a special day. The Arsaouis are in full force, gathered around the matriarch to his family. “It is a large family that, on Mother Fatima’s 70th birthday, decides to offer her a trip by barge,” says the author, summarizing the most important lines of his novel. And the end of this journey is the Eiffel Tower. If you go up the Seine, from bridge to bridge, it will happen between the past and the present. Sometimes episodes will refer to historical turning points in French-Algerian history. We are talking about Algeria’s war. We are also talking about October 17, 1961, the massacre of 1961. We are also talking about the myth of the return to the 1970s, the hopes for the election of François Mitterrand. But there are also, in these round trips between present and past, very personal episodes. There is the big story, there is also the little story. And this little story, it’s also what founds the identity of these characters.

“Identity”: the word is out. This is the central theme of All Words We Did Not Say. Born out of the confrontation between big and small history, identity is neither happy nor unhappy. Above all, it is versatile, as the hero narrator Malik reminds us, and compares identity with the Eiffel Tower.

“During one of these thousands of readings of everything and everything I have accumulated in my life,” says Malik, I discovered that the iron used for the entire Eiffel came in part from the mines of Zacar and Rouïna in Algeria. The most famous monument in the world is like our family, French with bits of Algeria in it. ”This awareness that concludes the beautiful novel by Mabrouk Rachedi, will it be able to calm the anger and resentment of Malik and his family, all thirsty for recognition?

All the words we have not said to each other, by Mabrouck Rachedi. Grassset editions, 203 pages, 18.50 euros.

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