She wrote two songs that were sung by the famous singer Céline Dion on her album D’elles. The name of this songwriter is Nina Bouraoui. She was born in Rennes (France, 1967) and was raised for fourteen years in Algeria, the country of her father’s origins. Her mother hails from France.

In 1991 she published her debut novel La Voyeuse Interdite. In this novel a girl tells about her life in an Algerian home, that she shares with her parents and two sisters. The verb ‘share’ is an overstatement. She lives a secluded life. Her father does not talk to her. Her mother tries to ignore her as much as possible. One sister is mentally and physically disabled. The other sister lives with death in her mind and body. There is a housemaid, named Ourdhia, who makes a connection with the girl, but she leaves the household after she has been raped in the streets.

She (Fikria) lives in her bedroom and watches life pass by. Her own life passes by. The people in the street in front of the house pass by. She watches what happens from her window. Life is near, and at a distance.

One day the girl realises something is creeping near. It is the stiffling shadow of an arranged marriage. She does not know the man. She does not know his background. There is no need to know, just to fulfill the wishes of her parents. 

She buries her childhood in her room. To me, she buries at the same time her life, while the party takes place underneath her room. 

At times the novel moves very slow, like the days of Fikria. At other times life in the novel is a cavalcade of thoughts and wishes and disappointments and automutilation. But all the time it is an encouragement for your imagination, to connect movies and stills to the words and the sentences. To see the girl in her room. To see her observe the people in the street under her window. To see her parents inflict pain one another and on her. To hear a sad song.

A great debut.

Nina Bouraoui – La voyeuse interdite – 1991


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I enjoy reading about Africa. New books. Old books. By African writers. By non-African writers. Novel. History. Travel. Biographies. Autobiographies. Politics. Colonialism. Poetry.

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