Migrating Words: Writer Amara Lakhous on Cultural and Literary Translation

April 2015

1. In Class Talks: Mon. April 6th, 2015 - Conrad J. Schmitt Hall 104
2. Public Lecture:
Mon. April 13th, 2015 - University Hall Conference Center

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While media coverage of the arrivals of immigrants to Italy (and Southern Europe at large) over the last several years tends to be sensationalistic and for the most part a reductive operation in "counting," writers such as Amara Lakhous are instead interested in "recounting" the stories of these migrants as they mix and clash with the "locals." With his books, Lakhous has provided a historically informed, culturally layered and linguistically rich portrayal of Italian society as fundamentally mixed in light of its massive emigration; its colonial and post-colonial experience; and its role in the current scenario of global immigration. In the course of his two-day engagement at Montclair State University, Lakhous will offer insights into these phenomena from the unique perspective of an Italian of Algerian origin who currently lives in New York. A writer who has established himself as a distinctive voice in Italian, Lakhous has found a way of migrating through words while also telling stories of migration with them.

All presentations wil be in English.

Amara Lakhous was born in Algiers in 1970: at the age of 25 he moved to Italy and became an Italian citizen in 2008. He has a degree in philosophy from the University of Algiers and another in cultural anthropology from the University la Sapienza, Rome where he completed a Ph.D. thesis entitled “Living Islam as a Minority.” His first novel, Le cimici e il pirata (Bedbugs and the Pirate), was published in 1999. Clash of Civilizations Over an Elevator in Piazza Vittorio (2006), a winner of prestigious prizes in Italy such as Flaiano and Racalmare-Leonardo Sciascia, was his second novel. It was followed by Divorce Islamic Style (2010) and Dispute Over a Very Italian Piglet (2013). Translated into several languages, his novels are published in English by Europa Editions (translated by Ann Goldstein). Lakhous lived in several Italian cities before moving to New York in 2014. His Clash of Civilizations was chosen for the 2014 edition of the Reading Project at Cornell University: several thousand first-year students have read the book in order to engage with issues of cultural cross-pollination.

  • Presented in collaboration with the French and Arabic Programs of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures, and the AMICI Italian Club on campus

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