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Mohammed Dib: Le maître de chasse [The Hunting Master]

A fairly low-key novel for Dib but one that focuses on a key aspect of Algerian history. It is set during an important period – shortly after the Revolution and independence, when there is another struggle, this one to determine who owns the Revolution. On the one hand, we have the Beggars of God, a group led by Hakim Madjar and his faithful disciple Lâbane. They are supported by a disparate group of people – one of whom is called No name – including a French schoolteacher, Jean-Marie Aymard. In their travels through the country, begging, they meet with a decidedly mixed reception from the peasants, some of whom give them food and water and some of whom are less enthusiastic.

On the other side is Kamal Waëd, the powerful official, who sees his view of the Revolution threatened by this group and opposes them at all costs, finally having Hakim Madjar killed. The way Dib tells his story is to give a couple of pages to the various protagonists and let them tell what they see and think. It’s all done gradually and low key. It’s interesting to compare his approach to Vargas Llosa‘s in La Guerra del Fin del Mundo (The War of the End of the World). Dib is much quieter, no wars of the end of the world, just a quiet revolution quietly extinguished by the bureaucrats who have quietly seized the Revolution for their own ends. Very sad but probably the fate of all good revolutions.

Publishing history

First published in French by Éditions du Seuil in 1973
No English translation