Branding the ‘Beur’ Author

Minority Writing and the Media in France

Kathryn A. Kleppinger

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ISBN: 9781781381960

Publication: December 30, 2015

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 36

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Branding the Beur Author focuses on the mainstream media promotion of literature written by the descendants of North African immigrants to France (often called beurs). These conversations between journalists and ‘beur’ authors delve into contemporary debates such as the explosion of racism in the 1980s and the purported role of Islam in French society in the 1990s. But the interests of journalists looking for sensational subject matter also heavily shape the promotion and reception of these novels: only the ‘beur’ authors who employ a realist style to write about the challenges faced by the North African immigrant population in France—and who engage on-air with French identity politics and immigration—receive multiple invitations to participate in interviews. Previous scholarship has taken a necessary first step by analyzing the social and political stakes of this literature (using labels such as ‘beur’ and/or ‘banlieue,’ to designate its urban, economically distressed setting), but the book argues that we must move beyond this approach because it reproduces the selection criteria deployed by the media that determine which books receive the most commercial and critical support. By demonstrating how minority-based literary labels such as ‘francophone’ and ‘postcolonial’ are always already defined by the socio-political context in which books are published and promoted, the book establishes that these labels are tautological and cannot reflect the thematic and stylistic richness of beur (and other minority) production in France.

Kathryn A. Kleppinger is Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at The George Washington University.


List of Illustrations

I Authorship at a Crossroads: The Changing Faces of French Writing, 1983–2013

II Mehdi Charef and the Invention of Beur Writing

III Competing Visions of Minority Authorship: Azouz Begag and Farida Belghoul

IV Eyewitness Narratives and the Creation of the Beurette

V Rachid Djaïdani and the Shift from Beur to Banlieue Writing

VI Revising the Beurette Label: Faïza Guène’s Ongoing Quest to Reframe the Reception of Her Work

VII Sabri Louatah and the Qui fait la France? Collective: Literature and Politics since 2007

Works Cited


Kleppinger puts forth a compelling model for understanding the changes over time in the reception of North African French writers and in their own aesthetic goals.
Kristen Stern, Davidson College, H-France Review


Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

256 Pages

ISBN: 9781781381960

Publication: December 30, 2015

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 36

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