Surrogacy: Temporary Familial Bonds and the Bondage of Origins in Fouad Laroui’s Une année chez les Français




Frelier, Jocelyn A.

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Journal of North Afican


This article examines Fouad Laroui’s 2010 novel, Une année chez les Français, and charts the protagonist’s development to argue that it offers a new model for Moroccan coming-of-age in a postcolonial context. While Une année is a Bildungsroman, it breaks away from patterns seen in the genre before it to illustrate the possibilities of creating ‘Third Spaces’ (Bhabha 1990). The protagonist, Mehdi, arrives at his moment of ‘apprentissage’ thanks to his pseudo-adoption by a French family and French boarding school, where he experiences what I have termed a pull-push sensation. I outline the sources and effects of the pull-push Mehdi perceives and then turn to argue that these experiences allow him to destabilise the relationship between the concepts of family and familiarity. It is through his newly found understanding that what is familiar is not always family and what is family does not always feel familiar that Mehdi is able to articulate the third space he desires for himself and come of age. While this article focuses on the experiences of a single, fictional character, Une année chez les Francais introduces readers with a framework for imagining the identity-formation of a multiplicity of individuals who have grown up at the intersection of postcolonial North Africa and continental France.


Embargo ends September 1, 2020
Previously published in the Journal of North African Studies


Bildungsroman, coming-of-age, third space, pull-push, boarding school, apprentissage, Une annee chez les Français


Frelier, Jocelyn A. “Surrogacy: Temporary Familial Bonds and the Bondage of Origins in Fouad Laroui’s Une Année Chez Les Français.” The Journal of North African Studies 24, no. 2 (March 4, 2019): 300–324.