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Until the Birds Return (En Attendant Les Hirondelles)
by Mary Nyiri

Karim Moussaoui, France

Three short stories provide glimpses into ordinary lives in Algeria. The first looks at property developer Mourad trying to understand his son, as well as satisfy his second wife, but who only seems to find comfort with his ex-wife. A chance observation of a man being brutally beaten is disturbing. Then the second story begins when Mourad’s employee, Djalil agrees to drive his neighbors to a wedding. After stopping for a meal, two passengers get food poisoning and end up in the hospital. Djalil and the other passenger, Aicha, are left alone and it becomes apparent that they used to know each other quite well. They share memories, a dance and then a bedroom. The next day they all drive on to the wedding, passing a car stopped on the roadside. This leads in to the last part, where a surgeon is accused of rape during the civil war. He is not guilty but decides to face his accuser who lives in a slum with her mentally disabled son. His accuser blames him for not preventing what happened to her. He tries to help her son. Impressions of current struggles facing Algerians, well-acted but somewhat ambiguous.