Kathryn Kleppinger’s Branding the Beur Author: Minority Writing and the Media in France, 1983-2013 (Liverpool University Press, 2015) examines the “paradox of ethnic minority writing” in the work of multiple authors of North African descent over a thirty-year period. Organized chronologically as a series of portraits, the book’s chapters deal with the literary (and filmic) output of an impressive number of writers, including Mehdi Charef, Azouz Begag, Farida Belghoul, Soraya Nini, Samira Bellil, Rachid Djaidani,Faiza Guene, and Sabri Loutah. Considering literary works themselves, as well as the audio-visual media representation of texts and authors on French TV and radio, Kleppinger’s analysis pushes back against the tendency to understand “beur” literature in exclusively social and political terms at the expense of aesthetic or artistic readings.
Drawing on a range of sources, from literature to television and radio archives, to interviews Kleppinger conducted with the authors themselves, the book weaves together the analysis of form and content, spoken word and gesture, personal and professional biography, representational and political strategies and effects. Exploring the categories that have simultaneously gained these authors and texts attention and limited the ways they have been understood, Branding the Beur Author moves across three decades of tremendous change in contemporary France. Its pages explore the work of both men and women writing, reading, and interrogating the “beur”as a social and literary identity in a nation engaged both historically and currently in crucial debates regarding the meanings of difference.
Roxanne Panchasi is an Associate Professor in the Department of History at Simon Fraser University. A historian of culture and politics in the twentieth century, her current research focuses on the representation of nuclear weapons and testing in France since 1945. She lives and reads in Vancouver, Canada. Please drop her a line at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a recent title to suggest for the podcast.
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