Samir Kacimi

What drives the main character of A Great Day to Die to end his life is the same trauma that can happen with anyone when you realise that what you are experiencing is completely different from what you should be experiencing.

Author of a dozen novels, including recently A Great Day to Die, which was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Algerian novelist Samir Kacimi explores the themes of failure and disappointment in love. 

Published on 07/12/2021

5 min

Samir Kacimi was born in Algiers in 1974, where he still lives today. After studying law, he worked in the field of cultural journalism. It was while reporting on the prisons of Algiers that he decided to write a novel. His first story, Declaration of Lostness (2009), was awarded a prize for the best début Algerian novel.

Author of nine novels, several chapters of which have been translated into English in Banipal magazine (In Love with a Barren Woman, 2011, not translated into French), L'amour au tournant was his first work translated into French, published by Seuil, in 2017. A Great Day to Die (2009), whose French translation was published in 2020 by Actes Sud, was recently selected for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, organised by the Jean-Luc Lagardère Foundation and the Institut du Monde Arabe, alongside Arabic-speaking authors such as Najwa M. Barakat, Beyrouk, and Charif Majdalani.

Samir Kacimi draws inspiration from his daily experience in the heart of his native Algiers. While still a journalist, it was his reporting that inspired him to write Declaration of Lostness, one of the first novels about the prison experience in Algeria. As he watched from a bus as a person attempted suicide from the top of an AADL (Algerian Agency for Housing Improvement and Development) building, he felt a form of jealousy at the interest in this gesture which, in the words of the narrator of A Great Day to Die, "is a human exception to the law of fatality".

Like the hero of his book, Samir Kacimi experienced many years of precariousness and disappointment before he succeeded in establishing himself as a recognised novelist. His work, which unfolds in the suburbs and working-class neighbourhoods of Algiers, explores the difficulties and disarray encountered by Algerians from all generations.     

L'amour au tournant (2017), translated into French by Lofti Nia, has enabled Samir Kacimi to make a name for himself outside Algeria, where he is already considered one of the most prominent writers of his generation. Although his ironic and sometimes crude style may have caused a scandal in his own country, Samir Kacimi deals with universal themes and his works have been translated into several languages.

In L'amour au tournant, for example, he tackles the question of old age and death, through the journey of two octogenarians in Algiers who question the role that love has played in their lives. A Great Day to Die also tackles the theme of disappointment in love, here combined with social decline and the misery of the suburbs. 

  • 1974


    Born in Algiers.

  • 1993


    Begins a career in cultural journalism.

  • 2009


    Declaration of Lostness, his first novel, wins the prize for the best Algerian debut novel.

  • 2017


    L'amour au tournant, his first book translated into French, is published by Seuil.

  • 2021


    Originally published in 2009, A Great Day to Die is translated into French and selected for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction.

The Institut français and the writer

Samir Kacimi was in Arles, from 14 to 18 November 2021, to participate to a translation workshop. This workshop was organized as part of the Livres des deux rives programme. Carried out by the Institut français, this programme aims to support exchanges between civil societies from the north and south sides of the Mediterranean Sea. 

Find out more about Livres des deux rives 

L'institut français, LAB