L’enfant fou de l’arbre creux (lit. The Mad Boy in the Hollow Tree) is set in the present day in the Algerian prison of Lambèse, where two prisoners – the French 'visitor' Pierre Chaumet and the Algerian Farid – are threatened with the death sentence. Outside in the yard – although only perceived by Pierre – is a mad boy chained to a hollow tree where he sleeps. Sansal has said that the prison represents Algeria itself, where the inhabitants are imprisoned by the system. And the blind boy – only perceived by Pierre because only outsiders have the ability to take full consciousness of a reality that doesn't belong to them – represents the Algerian people. Pierre and Farid have a long time to talk about their lives, and this is the main content of the book.
My other posts on Boualem Sansal:
Boualem Sansal: 2084 : La fin du monde
Boualem Sansal: Rue Darwin
Boualem Sansal: Le Village de l'Allemand
Boualem Sansal: Harraga
Boualem Sansal: Dis-moi le paradis
Boualem Sansal: Le Serment des barbares