Since 2000, fiction publishing in Algeria has been described by a number of scholars and cultural commentators as undergoing a “boom.” New independent publishing houses are presented as providing the possibility for new authors to emerge and be published in Algeria, in close contact with an Algerian readership. This article seeks to nuance this picture, through analysing the publishing infrastructure in Algeria, the transnational networks within which Algerian publishers operate, and perceptions of Algerian reading publics. Drawing on semi-structured interviews, each of these areas is examined from the perspectives of Algerian authors, booksellers, and publishers. The article argues that “independent” publishing in Algeria remains highly dependent on transnational publishing networks in France (for French-language works) and the Middle East (for Arabic-language works). This has important effects on consolidating the division of Algerian literature into “Arabophone” and “Francophone” categories, and reinforcing the assigned role of the Algerian author as interpreter of their society. Furthermore, despite an increasingly Arabophone Algerian reading public, and increasing connections between Algerian publishers and international Arabic-language publishers, publishing in French continues to be better subsidized and distributed internationally, and more likely to be commercially successful.
Karima Bentoumi (2020) Rethinking the Algerian publishing “boom:” perspectives of authors, booksellers, and publishers on transnational networks and local infrastructure, Journal of the African Literature Association, 14:3, 354-372, DOI: 10.1080/21674736.2020.1812204
Karima, University of Portsmouth alumna, has successfully defended her PhD in 2020, on “Power and publishing: contemporary Arabophone and Francophone African literature and its national and transnational conditions of production”.