JMI hosts novelist Yasmina Khadra at a literary dialogue session

18 Dec 2019

On Monday, JMI hosted world renowned Algerian novelist Mohammed Moulessehoul, who is known by the pen-name Yasmina Khadra, at a meeting with JMI students.

Yasmina Khadra presented his literary career which began when he was five years old, in addition to discussing the circumstances of his joining the military in Algeria. Khadra stated that he enrolled in the military academy in 1975 and graduated three years later as a noncommissioned officer. At the academy, he wrote his first novel series, titled Nymph, which was published 11 years later.

Novelist Khadra explained that he transitioned into the world of writing novels after extensive service in the military, to dedicate the rest of his life to literature and writing. He pointed out that he authored his works under his real name of Mohammed Moulessehoul prior to being forced to write under a pseudonynm, which came about since he refused to have his writings censored by the military. Thus, his real name became permanently absent from the literary stage in 1997, during the peak of the Algerian security crisis. 

The prolific writer stated that he held onto the name of Yasmina Khadra, even after forgoing the rank of officer and exposing his true identity, since this was his wife’s name and he wanted to show his appreciation for her patience and support. He also did this as a token of appreciation and respect for women in general.

In responding to students, Khadra mentioned that he found his calling in writing, and that his novels have been translated into 46 languages and published in 56 countries, with more than five million of his readers being in France alone. He added that the path towards creativity begins by believing in one’s self and one’s abilities, writing boldly and being dedicated to one’s talent and work, to achieve a person’s goals.

At the conclusion of the lecture, Khadra answered students’ questions on the status of Algerian literature and novels in general, and his writings in particular. Further questions from the students revolved around Khadra’s decision to settle in France, reconciling his military career with his writing and creativity, and other items which stood out from his diverse novels.