3 January 2018

Tahar Djaout: Les Chercheurs d'os (1984)

Tahar Djaout (1954–93) died at the age of thirty-nine, one of the first victims of Algeria's 'Decade of Terrorism'. Les Chercheurs d'or is the second of his seven novels, and often features as a set book in schools as well as universities. Its subject is in so many respects the Algerian war of independence, but which is nevertheless notable by its absence in the novel: we only have before and after.

Les Chercheurs d'or is divided into three parts: firstly, the leaving of the East Atlas mountains by the adolescent narrator with his relative Rabah Ouali to bring back the bones of his brother killed in the war; secondly, there's a long flashback to the boy's memories of his brother; and finally, there is the journey back to the village with the brother's remains.

The experience transforms the unnamed boy. Are these actually his brother's bones, why has he made this mission ostensibly for his brother who hated the village, and aren't the members of the village merely trying to bury their own ghosts?

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