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the Complete Review
the complete review - fiction

Autumn of the Phantoms

Yasmina Khadra

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To purchase Autumn of the Phantoms

Title: Autumn of the Phantoms
Author: Yasmina Khadra
Genre: Novel
Written: 1998 (Eng. 2006)
Length: 146 pages
Original in: French
Availability: Autumn of the Phantoms - US
Autumn of the Phantoms - UK
Autumn of the Phantoms - Canada
L'automne des chimères - Canada
Autumn of the Phantoms - India
L'automne des chimères - France
Herbst der Chimären - Deutschland
  • French title: L'automne des chimères
  • Translated by Aubrey Botsford

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Our Assessment:

B : rough picture of a country in the grips of senseless violence

See our review for fuller assessment.

Review Summaries
Source Rating Date Reviewer
FAZ . 9/8/2002 Stefan Weidner

  From the Reviews:
  • "In der Darstellung der letzten zehn blutigen Jahre Algeriens stößt die große Erzählkunst des Landes an ihre Grenzen. (...) Dies ist ein höchst origineller Beitrag nicht nur zur Erzählkunst in Algerien, sondern auch zur internationalen Krimiliteratur. Selbst wenn es kein Kriminalroman mehr ist." - Stefan Weidner, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

Please note that these ratings solely represent the complete review's biased interpretation and subjective opinion of the actual reviews and do not claim to accurately reflect or represent the views of the reviewers. Similarly the illustrative quotes chosen here are merely those the complete review subjectively believes represent the tenor and judgment of the review as a whole. We acknowledge (and remind and warn you) that they may, in fact, be entirely unrepresentative of the actual reviews by any other measure.

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The complete review's Review:

       Autumn of the Phantoms is the third and very final Inspector Brahim Llob-novel. It begins with Llob accompanying a friend to his home village, to bury yet another victim of Algeria's civil conflict. When he returns to Algiers he is summoned to the Ministry of the Interior, where his book -- Morituri, written under the pseudonym 'Yasmina Khadra' (yes, the first volume in the Inspector Llob-series) -- has been making the rounds and not found many fans:

"The Minister has requested me to transmit to you the utter disgust he felt upon reading your latest pot-boiler."
       The reaction leaves him reeling. Llob's career is in jeopardy, and he has to figure out just how hard he wants to keep it. Does he apologise and keep his job or stand behind the words he's written (portraying Algeria as the violent, corrupt mess everyone knows it is) ?
       Llob has always fought the good fight, but it's a dirty and dangerous business in Algeria. Assassination is popular sport, terrorizing the population common among both the insurgents and the police. Bombs, shots, and blood are commonplace: it's a brutal and violent world -- one where:
Death, once it has become banal, is just part of the furniture. It's the calm afterwards that seems suspicious.
       Llob always felt he had a duty, and a role to play, but now he wonders whether he can and should continue -- especially since apologizing would mean compromising his principles, and principles are one of the few things he has:
Should you take your ideals to the limit, or change sides ? And what is the limit ? The firing squad, the ambush, or just the mosque with all the other old men, as befits a pensioner ?
       It's not an easy decision. He has lots of enemies, and even as he considers withdrawing from his professional life his apartment is ransacked, he is followed, and manages to get involved in a local battle against insurgents. He also encounters several members of the more privileged classes, who have found their way in this mess and made out very nicely -- a lifestyle that nauseates him.
       Jumpy, uneven, and filled with the constant eruptions of violence that marked the Algeria of the late 1990s, Autumn of the Phantoms is a good study of this society. It's less effective as a thriller -- in part because the violence is so haphazard, the enmity so far-flung. But Llob is a decent character and narrator, and Khadra, raging effectively, is willing to take the story to its necessary and shocking extremes.
       Not your usual police-thriller, but a (disturbing) success as an Algerian testament.

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Autumn of the Phantoms: Reviews: Other books by Yasmina Khadra under review: Other books of interest under review:

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About the Author:

       'Yasmina Khadra' is the pseudonym of Mohammed Moulessehoul. He was born in 1956, and fled his native Algeria in 2000.

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