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Book Review :: Clamor by Hocine Tandjaoui

Clamor nonfiction by Hocine Tandjaoui book cover image

Guest Post by Jami Macarty

In Clamor, Hocine Tandjaoui’s debut English-language poetic memoir presented in the text’s original French and English translations, the Algerian author tries to make sense of surviving the aggregation: “Life war songs death.” Death and war came early in Tandjaoui’s life: His mother was killed during childbirth by “raging septicemia,” and he was “not even five years old when the war broke,” “not yet seven years old when [he felt] the blast of the bomb.” Tandjaoui was born in 1949 in French-occupied (1830 – 1962) Algeria “that transformed some of the humans that occupied it into half-gods, whereas the others were reduced to subjects without rights.” Outside Tandjaoui’s window, “a musical bath” of warfare’s bullets and bombs “playing simultaneously” to the tortured, pained conversations of colonial society and jazz, blues, and classical music—the “loud speakers were in fierce competition, pushing to the max, projecting a sonorous magma into the surroundings.” Clamor offers Anglophone readers “this setting in which a person comes first to life, then to consciousness”—adult reflections and reminiscences of the sounds of Tandjaoui’s childhood, complete with a discography (Piaf, Simone, Joplin, Holiday, etc.) that was a “resonance chamber” for his grief. Hocine Tandjaoui’s Clamor: “between celebration and weeping, an ululation made of love, despair, and tenderness.”

Clamor by Hocine Tandjaoui; translated by Olivia C. Harrison and Teresa Villa-Ignacio. Litmus Press, April 2021.

Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems are forthcoming.

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