Lia Brozgal Hostages of Authenticity Paul Smaïl, Azouz Begag, and the Invention of the Beur Author1 . . . like it or not, all writers are "cultural impersonators."2 Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The surprise of the 1997 literary season in France was the novel Vivre me tue, written by the now-notorious Paul Smaïl. A "coming to writing" story of its narrator--also named Paul Smaïl, Vivre me tue is set in late-1990s Paris, where the 27 year-old aspiring novelist and son of Moroccan immigrants writes his story through flashbacks and tangents, in prose peppered with references to Melville, Shakespeare, Genet, and Rimbaud. Despite his education--Paul holds a master's degree in comparative literature from a Parisian university--he finds himself reduced to delivering pizza by day; by night he works the desk at a Pigalle hotel that rents its rooms by the hour. If the day job is his bread and butter, the night job offers him access to two crucial things: a word processer and, between checking in couples without suitcases, time to write. The hotel desk is as close as Paul comes to "a room of his own," and he uses these moments to reflect on the complex negotiations
French Forum – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Jan 31, 2009
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