Azouz Begag, Part 2, Man of Letters
If you go to Amazon.fr and do a search on Azouz Begag you will come up with about 65 references to his books, obviously many repeats. I was not able to locate any English translations. Among the most prominent titles were: Le Gone du Chaâba (The Urchin from the Ghetto), its sequel Le Marteau Pique-Coeur (The Hammer that Strikes the Heart), Béni ou le Paradis Privé (Beni, or the Private Paradise) and Maman est devenue une Etoile (Momma Became a Star), about the death of his mother. They all seem to be about himself and his life as an immigrant boy in search of his roots in the ghettoes of Lyons. From a website called Alterités comes this brief review and interview:
Azouz Begag recently lost his father, the hero of all his novels. He describes this trauma in his latest book Le Marteau Pique-Coeur. Has the loss of his father led perhaps to the son finding himself? "From now on I will have to look inside myself for my connection to litterature. I want to find my own relationship with the world". Don't think for a minute that Azouz will stop writing about immigration, the main theme of his works. "That world is my own. I intend to go on writing about these people who struggle to get out of it and live. And (I want) to become a sort of new Emile Zola of French society!"(...) Afterthe death of his parents the son is just a bit freer to talk about sexuality, about sensuality, and about his relations with women. "In the milieu where I was born, these subjects are taboos, and it is only because my parents were illiterate that I dared mention them. In the end, it was lucky that they didn't know how to read!"
The article from Occidentalis that provided the basis of Part 1 is severely critical of his "literary" accomplishments:
As Minister Delegate of Equal Opportunity (a first in the history of French government), this writer/pornocrat is today the reflection of a certain France. Did he not announce to his elementary school teacher that one day he would be President of the Republic?
Let's get right to the point. Since so many claim that Azouz Begag is a "great writer", popular with teens (his books, in particular the one quoted from below, appear on the list of books recommended for the young by the Minstry of Education), they will forgive us if we quote a brief passage from Le Gone de Chaâba ("urchin from the ghetto" in Arabic street language). This book made him famous, and the passage is a dialogue between an Arab boy and girl, both around twelve (...)
"Shall we screw like grown-ups do?" She blushed from fright, but Hacem encouraged her, despite his surprise.
"Yes, we'll screw like grown-ups!"
"OK, but what if my mother catches us?"
I reassured her:
"Your mother isn't home. Anyway, we won't say anything to anyone, take off your panties".
After hesitating a few seconds, she did as directed. "And now, what do we do?", she asked.
I approached her, with my "zémama" in my hand. Then Saïda sat on her behind, and opened her legs to give me her intimacy..."
Garbage like that is common in the popular novels of our new minister of affirmative action, but that does not stop him from calling himself "exemplary" and a "man of action".
Note from Tiberge: I chose not to translate "zémama", clearly an Arabic word. I'd never seen it before and could not think of a colorful American equivalent, but there is no doubt as to its meaning. I did a Google search on the word and came up with a number of Franco-Arabic sites that were dating agencies. On-line slang dictionaries were not helpful. I have no special interest in porn, but words themselves and their origins do interest me. Note that the word is feminine in French - not unusual, since the words for female organs are masculine.
One thought - there has never been any outcry from the Muslim community over this porn, and yet they went berserk over the Danish cartoons. The article concludes:
Last summer the film Camping out at the Farm with script by Azouz Begag was released. Here is the official resumé: "Six troubled teens from the Parisian suburbs head for the deep country-side, escorted by their mentor. They are expected to show their good will through the community service ordered by a judge bent on giving them a second chance. Between the earphones screwed into their ears, the pit-bull, and the Muslim prayers these adolescents will turn the life of a peaceful village upside-down."
All of which will bring to mind some memories of real events, and very sordid ones, of the summer of 2005.