Amine Ben Aissa, born in 1980, better known by the pen name Amine Al Ghozzi, is a Tunisian-French writer who writes in both standard Arabic and Tunisian Arabic dialect. He graduated from the Faculty of Human and Social Sciences of Tunis and was an associate professor of history and geography at various middle and high schools in Tunisia. He is now enrolled in a master’s degree programme at the Sorbonne in France. Al Ghozzi’s first novel, ظل شيطان خلف صورتي (Devil’s Shadow Behind my Picture), was published in 2013. The book tackled social and political issues in Tunisia, covering subjects including illegal immigration, emotional and sexual relationships, harassment and rape, the relationship between citizens and the police, journalistic practices and censorship. Al Ghozzi has also written and directed two short films, which were produced by the Tunisian Federation of Amateur Filmmakers, The Blackboard in 2004 and Crossed Lives in 2005. In addition, he has written several poems in Arabic and in Tunisian dialects, including the lyrics of the famous song Kelmti Horra (My word is free). He currently lives with his wife, his daughter and his son in Orléans, in the region of Centre-Val de Loire in France.
زندالي ليلة 14 جانفي 2011 (Zindali, the night of 14 January 2011)
Zindali is a type of prison folk music in Tunisia. It expresses the prisoners’ pain and their longing for freedom. In the novel, it’s a title, a metaphor, an opening, a renewed question about the Tunisian Revolution: did it succeed? After weeks of confrontation between police forces and Tunisians, President Ben Ali suddenly chose to withdraw and flee Tunisia on the evening of 14 January 2011. The police forces, which had always been omnipresent, disappeared. The country was handed over to a caretaker government that was confused, facing a growing popular uprising with participants expressing themselves recklessly and freely. The novel deals with these political events outside the framework of the official actors. It sheds light on the stories of 16 characters who meet on street corners and behind closed doors in the coastal city of Sousse on the day that Ben Ali left. News is flowing about the continuous looting of shops and about the need to protect neighbourhoods and cities from rioters, therefore the inhabitants and shop and café owners have an unprecedented role: fighting an invisible danger from an unknown source. Groups are formed and cigarettes, wine and stories merrily distributed in a popular odyssey.