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"Exile is more than a geographical concept," wrote Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish.Khaled, the one-armed painter who narrates Algerian author Ahlem Mosteghanemi's first novel, "Dhakirat al-Jasad" (Memories in the Flesh), is an emotional and geographical exile.Mosteghanemi's novel, the first to be written in Arabic by an Algerian woman, was originally published in 1993 and sold over a million copies worldwide.Unusually for a novel, the entire book is written in the second person, addressed to the object of Khaled's obsession – an author who has just published a novel of her own. Khaled doesn't reveal the name of his love interest; known before her registration as Hayat, he hints that her name means "dreams," suggesting that she is called "Ahlem," like Mosteghanemi. The parallels between the two women are striking, yet the author says she did not intend to write about herself. Like Mosteghanemi, who wrote the novel while living in Paris, he is cut off from his roots.As the novel progresses, the root of Khaled's anger toward Hayat/Ahlem, at first unclear, gradually begins to make sense.Khaled's outpouring of anger and love for a woman becomes Mosteghanemi's letter to her homeland.
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