This story written by the Algeria-born writer Mehdi Charef (1952, Maghnia, Algeria) has some elements that can be found in the life of the writer. Both the protagonist and the writer were born in Algeria, both of them moved to France, where father worked. Both have suffered hardships and difficulties, trying to make a living in adverse situations.
The protagonist is Madjid who lives in one of the banlieux of Paris. We meet his sick father and his sane mother, and his relatives and his friends from all corners of the world, all bundled together in a small area of the metropole Paris. We see the violence and the attempts to make a living and the friendships, that not often last long. We see the influence of booze and stimulants. Families are dysfunctional and scattered.
Mehdi Charef dedicates his book to his mother Mebarka (eventhough she cannot read). In the book mother Malika seems to be the only sane person, she tries to keep her family together, she helps other people in tough circumstances. I assume Mebarka and Malika are like twin sisters. Women on a steady course when the seas are rough. Women who give shelter and refuge. I wrote that Madjid is the protagonist, but I could state as well that Malika is the real protagonist.
The book has been turned into a movie.
Mehdi Charef – Le thé au harem d’Archi Ahmed – 1983