My Men by Malika Mokeddem
Translated by Laura Rice & Karim Hamdy
Excerpt: “The First Absence”
About the Book:
A cross between kiss-and-tell and curse-and-tell, Malika Mokeddem’s memoir of the men in her life presents a mosaic of relationships defining what it is to be a woman, an immigrant, a doctor, and a citizen of an uncertain world. From her childhood days in French colonial Algeria to her later years as a doctor in Paris and a writer in Montpellier, Mokeddem traces the path of a brilliant girl in a world of men. Anorexia, insomnia, financial independence, escapism in books, atheism, self-imposed exile, painting, and the poetics of free love—such are the various ways in which she has responded to discrimination.
Mokeddem hauntingly describes how her literary and medical careers blossomed along with her sexuality and her desire to escape the gender bias that shackled Algerian tradition. At once a scathing critique of Algerian patriarchy and a soaring tribute to the men who opened a window on the world, Mokeddem’s story is a fascinating portrait of gender as it is actually felt, lived, and never left behind.
Malika Mokeddem is an Algerian immigrant who has lived most of her life in France. A medical doctor as well as a writer, she worked in Montpellier as a general practitioner focusing on the health needs of the immigrant North African community until recently, when death threats forced her to close her clinic. She now works several days a week at a nephrology clinic and devotes the rest of her time to writing. She is the author of numerous books, including two books translated and available in Bison Books editions: The Forbidden Woman and Century of Locusts.
Laura Rice is a professor of English at Oregon State University and Karim Hamdy is the director of the Center for Maghrib Studies in Tunis. They are translators of Mokeddem’s Century of Locusts. Rice has also written about Malika Mokeddem in her book Of Irony and Empire: Islam, the West, and the Transcultural Invention of Africa.
“In this book there is some insolence, some rebelliousness, but also some love. I realized that [my father and I] totally missed each other because of prudishness, silence, and forbidden taboos. Having said that, I described my relations with the men I have known without falling into the cliché of superficial eroticism.”—Malika Mokeddem, in the Algeria Daily
“My Men is an honest look into the life and loves of a remarkable and passionate woman, and her ability to persevere despite obstacles and personal tragedy is inspiring and captivating.”—Darryl Morris, Belletrista
Awards for Translation:
Cet ouvrage, publié dans le cadre d’un programme d’aide à la publication, bénéficie du soutien du Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Service Culturel de l’Ambassade de France aux Etats-Unis.
This work, published as part of a program of aid for publication, received support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.
Publication of this book was assisted by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.