Trois jours à Oran
Je suis fille, petite-fille, arrière-petite-fille de piedsnoirs. Enfant, j’en étais fière, ensuite j’en ai eu honte. Longtemps je me suis trouvée là, entre ces deux rives. Et la relation complexe, douloureuse, que j’entretenais avec mes racines a dirigé ma vie malgré moi, dicté mes choix.
Quand ma grand-mère est morte, j’ai pensé que ce jour était arrivé.
Le 15 septembre 2005, j’ai embarqué avec mon père sur un vol à destination d’Oran. J’ignorais ce que nous allions trouver là-bas, si la maison où il était né existait encore, comment nous serions accueillis. J’ignorais surtout si ce voyage, dont j’attendais beaucoup et que j’ai forcé mon père à accomplir avec moi, serait une victoire, ou une erreur. Il y avait un risque. Je l’ai pris.
Three Days in Oran describes the journey a young woman undertook in 2005 to bring her father home to the land of his birth, after almost forty years’ absence, a land where he is now a foreigner.
She had to wait until her grandmother had died and she herself was separated from her husband before fulfilling the wish that, until then, had struck her has unjustified. She spent too long hovering between two apparently irreconcilable positions, wavering between pride in her “pieds-noirs” origins and shame about her colonial history. It is this painful relationship with her roots which ruled her life and dictated her choices in spite of herself.
From the apartment in Oran to the family farm in Misserghin and on to some forgotten white tombs, from the colourful streets of the dazzling seafront… over a period of three days, father and daughter weave together a conversation that is restrained yet touching and joyful, and which reconciles them with themselves. Traces of the family have not disappeared, far from it; in fact they have some generous, unexpected encounters in store.
A superb narrative about family heritage and characters searching for their origins, Three Days in Oran explores the trajectory of a man reconnecting with his past and a woman finding her freedom – a journey vibrant with the colours, smells and light of present day Algeria.
Anne Plantagenet is the author of several novels, including Le Prisonnier (2009) and Nation Pigalle (2011) published by Stock; she also writes biographies and novellas, and has translated numerous Spanish and Latin American novels. After London and Seville, she now lives in Paris.