Ahlam Mosteghanemi

Ahlam Mosteghanemi bigraphy, stories - Algerian writer

Ahlam Mosteghanemi : biography

1953 –

Ahlam (or Ahlem) Mosteghanemi (), is an Algerian writer who has been called "the world’s best-known arabophone woman novelist".Zahia Smail Salhi, ‘Mustaghanmi, Ahlam (1953–)’, . . Born in Constantine, the daughter of revolutionary leader Mohammed Chérif, she is the first female Algerian author of Arabic-language works to be translated into English (famous Algerian novelist Assia Djebar writes in French). Thus, the first two of a trilogy have been translated. They are Memory in the Flesh and Chaos of the Senses. They reflect and feature the Algerian struggle for postcolonial success and security.

Her Life

By the time she was born, her father had already been imprisoned after the 1945 riots. When the Algerian war broke out in 1954, her family home in Tunisia became a central meeting point for resistance fighters allied to the Algerian People’s Party including her father and cousins. After independence, in 1962, the family returned to Algeria, where Ahlam was sent to the country’s first Arabic-language school.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she became one of the first Algerian Arabic writers, broadcasting her poetry on national radio to support her family due to her father’s ill-health. She earned a B.A. in Arabic Literature from the University of Algiers in 1973, and also published her first poetry collection, Ala’ Marfa Al Ayam (The Harbour of Days).

In 1982, she received her Ph.D. in Sociology from the Sorbonne in Paris (her thesis was published by L’Harmattan as Algérie, femmes et écriture), where she had moved in the late 1970s. She married a Lebanese journalist and moved to Beirut, where she published her first novel, Memory in the Flesh (Zakirat al Jassad) in 1993. To date, it has sold over a million copies across the Arabic-speaking world. It was translated into English by the American University in Cairo Press in 2000, after winning the 1998 Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature.

Ahlem Mosteghanemi currently lives in Beirut, Lebanon with her husband and has 3 children.

Her Work


  1. Memory in the Flesh – Published by Dar Al-Adab, Beirut, 1993, 34 printed editions. Considered by critics as the most important work of Arabic fiction and one of the Top 100 Arab novels published during the last century.
  2. Chaos of the Senses – Published by Dar Al-Adab in Beirut 1997, 30 printed editions.
  3. Passer-by a Bed – Published by Ahlem Mosteghanemi in Beirut 2003, 22 printed editions.


  1. In the Harbour of Days – Published by SNED in Algers 1973
  2. Writing in a moment of nudity – Published by Dar Al-Adab in Beirut 1976
  3. Algeria: Women and Writings – Published by l’Harmattan in Paris 1985
  4. Lies of a Fish – Published by l’ENAG in Algers 1993
  5. nessyane.com – Published by Dar Al-Adab in Beirut 2009


  1. Academic research for her doctoral thesis, Paris 1982, supervised by Jacques Berque. http://www.magharebia.com/cocoon/awi/xhtml1/en_GB/features/awi/features/2005/01/13/feature-0

UNESCO has printed all her work in Braille for blind readers.

Her Literary Work in the Curriculum

Ahlam Mosteghanemi’s novels have been adopted in the curricula of several universities and high schools worldwide, and dozens of university theses and research papers have been based upon her work. The French Ministry of Education has used parts of Memory in the Flesh for the French baccalaureate tests in 2003 in 15 countries where students chose Arabic as a second language. Her work has been translated into several foreign languages by prestigious publishing houses, including pocket books in French and English.

She lectured and worked as a visiting professor in many universities around the world including: The American University of Beirut, 1995 – University of Maryland, 1999 – University of Sorbonne, 2002 – Montpellier University, 2002 – University of Lyon, 2003 – Yale University, 2005 – MIT Boston, 2005 – University of Michigan, 2005.

Awards and honors

  • Awarded The Shield of Beirut by the Governor of Beirut in a special ceremony held at Unesco Palace attended by 1500 people at the tme her book “nessyane.com” was published in 2009.
  • Identified by Forbes Magazine as the most successful Arabic writer, having exceeded sales of 2,300,000 and one of the ten most influential women in the Arab world and the leading woman in literature.
  • Received the Shield of Al Jimar Foundation for Arabic Creativity in Tripoli – Libya, 2007.
  • Named the Algerian Cultural Personality of the year 2007 by Algerian News Magazine and the Algerian Press Club.
  • Selected for three years in a row (2006, 2007 and 2008) as one of the 100 most powerful public figures in the Arab World by Arabian Business Magazine, ranking at number 58 in 2008.
  • Named The Most Distinguished Arab Woman of 2006 (selected from 680 nominated women) by the Arab Women Studies Center Paris / Dubai
  • Awarded a medal of honor from Abdelaziz Bouteflika the President of Algeria in 2006.
  • Received the Medal of Appreciation and Gratitude from Sheikh Abdelhamid Ben Badis Foundation, Constantine, 2006.
  • Received the Pioneers of Lebanon Committee Medal for her overall work 2004.
  • Received the George Tarabeh Prize for Culture and Creativity, Lebanon, 1999.
  • Received the Amman Loyalty Medal for Creativity, Amman, Jordan 1999.
  • Received the Naguib Mahfouz Medal for Literature for Memory of the Flesh in 1998.
  • Received the Nour Foundation Prize for Women’s Creativity, Cairo, 19*6.