The young Berber narrator of Donkey Heart Monkey Mind has to learn the kind of perseverance and ingenuity it takes to survive in 1980s Algeria, where his people are second-class citizens in a third world country.
His tale opens when police brutally beat him for participating in a protest march.
Knowing that he must leave his own country or suffer this kind of treatment forever, he begins wandering Europe and North Africa, desperately seeking for some alternative lives. He tries his hand as a street vendor and a pickpocket, is mistaken for a drug smuggler and an Egyptian spy, and poses as Jewish to sneak into Israel and as a devout Muslim to escape notice in a prison cell in Egypt.
But he is eventually swept up in the wave of arrests following the « Black October » Algerian political riots of October 1988. Drugged and shipped within long hours to a remote military prison, he will be kept completely isolated. For months he is burned, brutalized, gets his memory washed out and is held in solitary confinement, far away from the nearest village.
But in the end he survives and his tale poignantly illustrates how even in the most desperate circumstances hope can be found, help is offered, and beautiful inspiration strikes.
Djaffar Chetouane was born in one of the seven Berber tribes of North Africa, in Tizi-Ouzou, Great Kabylia, Algeria, in 1968.
‘Donkey Heart Monkey Mind’ is his debut novel and a Best-Seller, already sold 35,000 copies both in English & French, depicting his harsh circumstances as an oppressed minority. He now lives in northern California.
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