Is it better to run or to stay?

“Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need of
some strangers hand
In a desperate land”

This is the End’
(Jim Morrison/The Doors)

Amara Lakhous has written an interesting novella about those who flee strife and arrive in the west to face racism [mea culpa, I have seen the film but have not read the book].

“Clash of civilisations over a lift in Piazza Vittorio” – film by Isotta Toso (2010) based on this novel by Amara Lakhous (2006) was shown on Sunday 29 April 3.00pm at QLD College of Art. It was sponsored by Griffith University and Dante Alighieri, Italian Institute of Culture (Syd) and Italian Govt Cultural Office (Melb).

What is racism?
“I’m sure the murderer of Lorenzo Manfredini is one of the immigrants….All you have to do is take a walk in the afternoon in the gardens in Piazza Vittorio to see that the overwhelming majority of the people are foreigners; some come from Morocco, some from Romania, China, India, Poland, Senegal, Albania. Living with them is impossible. They have religions, habits, and traditions different from ours. In their countries they live outside or in tents, they eat with their hands, they travel on donkeys and camels and treat women like slaves. I’m not a racist, but that’s the truth.”  — (Review by Mary Whipple)7 September 2010

Algeria — is it better to run or to stay?

This question was posed in the film ‘Of Gods and Men’ about  a group of Cistercian monks living in a small Algerian community who were killed in mysterious circumstances. Some say it was Islamists and others say the military killed the monks.
Born in Algiers in 1970, the sixth of nine children, Amara Lakhous has lived in Italy since 1995. His parents were Berbers, and they sent him to a Koran school for four years where he learned classical Arabic. He learned French at junior school, which meant that he had the role of mediating between his Algerian and his French relatives. Amara worked for the Algerian radio, but after receiving threats on his life, he moved to Italy in 1995. “Ero stanco di aspettare il mio
assassino” [I got tired of waiting for my assassins]. Amara has a degree in philosophy from Algiers and in Cultural Anthropology from La Sapienza, Rome, and a PhD from La Sapienza on Muslim Arab migrants in Italy. His books have won various awards in both countries.

His first novel Le cimici e il pirata was published in an Arabic-Italian bilingual edition and was republished last year in Italian, under the title Un pirata piccolo piccolo. In 2003 he published a second novel, first in Arabic and in Italian (2006) Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore a Piazza Vittorio which was translated in English in 2008. His last novel, Divorzio all’islamica a viale Marconi (2010) will appear in English in April (Divorce Islamic Style, Europe Editions). Last year Amara Lakhous was invited by the Italian Institute of Culture to represent Italy at the Sydney Writer’s Festival. This year after Sydney he will visit several Australian universities to give talks and seminars on his books.

Scontro o incontro di civiltà? [Clash of civilizations or meeting?] Il tema dell’immigrazione nei romanzi di Amara Lakhous [The theme of immigration in the novels of Amara Lakhous]

  • Lecture is only open to Griffith University students enrolled in Italian and alumni
  • When: Tuesday, 1 May 2012 at 11:00
  • Where: Griffith University, Nathan Campus, School of Languages and Linguistics – N56, 0.09
  • RSVP: 26 April, 2012 to

Please see invitation in attached file. The film is in Italian with English sub-titles, the Q&A afterwards was in Italian.

Ian Curr
April 2012

Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio
Scontro di civiltà per un ascensore in Piazza Vittorio – Trailer Italiano
“Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio” (Reviewed by Mary Whipple)
Amara Lakhous at GU
Biography at Amara Lakhous’s website

Of Gods and Men

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