By Hocine Tandjaoui
Translated by Olivia C. Harrison, Teresa Villa-Ignacio
Hocine Tandjaoui’s debut English-language book, presented bilingually in French and English
Hocine Tandjaoui’s poetic memoir, Clamor, is a gripping testimonial to the transnational solidarities forged across the decolonizing world in the 1950s and 60s, from the rarely heard perspective of a child. Set against the backdrop of one of the bloodiest wars of decolonization, Clamor offers an account of the colonial soundscape and a dazzling poetic evocation of Tandjaoui’s discovery of African-American music during his childhood in colonized Algeria. A gorgeously written and translated poetic text or “proème,” Clamor reckons with the music that shaped Tandjaoui’s childhood, the soundtrack of the Black liberation movements in the U.S., and the voices of artists of the African diaspora that rise above the din of war, becoming the soundbox and sounding board of decolonization in Algeria.
Olivia C. Harrison
Praise for Clamor
Reading Tandjaoui’s memoir immediately catapulted me back to my own childhood, safely in the north, but bright with the same pleasures brought by the green eye of the old radio set as focused delivery of news, i.e. of music & language, from further away than I, we, could ever think possible. And thus the world, once let in via the machine behind that eye, compressed, brought home, opens out again through loud-speakers & word-pores. A celebration. To write poetry in German is “dichten,” echoing “to condense,” & this autobiography in “prose” is a poem, a condensation into word-music. An immense pleasure — here in true stereo channels: the original French & an excellent English translation.
— Pierre Joris, author of Barzakh
Although we are still far from a more complete picture, Anglophone readers can begin piecing together the exhilarating and terrifying human landscape that makes up Algeria then and now: before, during, and after French colonization. Hocine Tandjaoui’s syncopated howl of childhood suffering, joy, and discovery—uttered, spat, and caressed out of the surrounding clamor—provides imaginative weight to life long lost but ever present. Besides making this brilliant text available, scholar-translators Olivia C. Harrison and Teresa Villa-Ignacio also give us a textbook of translation and entry into a world too little known outside its immediate constituency.
— Ammiel Alcalay
Read an excerpt from Clamor featured on Verse!
Listen to the sounds of Clamor on our Spotify playlist.