French Writings on India and South Asia
‘Again and again they ask his name. The first time, some people sitting down had recited all the names beginning with the letter, A. For no reason at all, they had stopped at Alam.’
Alam is an Afghan child-soldier, child-refugee. Life is harsh, fragile and fleeting for him. Spanning two continents, with opium fields and deserted Parisian ghettos as backdrops, Opium Poppy lays bare the devastated lives of war- torn children. Hubert Haddad holds up the broken lives of these children in prose that the reader will find difficult to forget.
Hubert Haddad was born in Tunis in 1947, and has never forgotten his Jewish and Berber origins. He was raised in Paris and published his first book of poems at the age of twenty. In his work, consisting of more than fifty novels, plays, and essays, he explores the behaviour of human beings in extremis. Hubert Haddad has won several awards including the Prix Renaudot Poche 2009 and the Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie 2008 for a previous novel, entitled, Palestine.
The fate of Alam, the young Afghani boy, is crushed by roving war and exile, between Kandahar and Paris. Opium Poppy is a novel on the flouted innocence of children, thrust into a world gone mad…. He thinks he has found a safe haven by travelling to France, the land of ‘human rights’…. Kandahar’s opium becomes heroin in Paris, sowing an endless curse. Hubert Haddad’s work, steeped in melancholy poetry casts the reader into the universal drama of youth, betrayed.