The Time of the Bombs

January 26, 2021

On February 11, 1957, Fernand Iveton was guillotined in Algiers, in the yard of Barberousse Prison. A military court had convicted him of “attempting to destroy, with an explosive substance, a building that is inhabited or used for habitation.” Iveton had gone to great lengths to ensure no one would be hurt in the blast and, in any event, the bomb didn’t go off. But he was a pied-noir, a Frenchman born in Algeria, and it was politically expedient to make an example of a European who had chosen the side of the Arabs.

Iveton became a cause célèbre, called a “killer” by France-Soir despite the lack of deaths. Jean-Paul Sartre wrote about him in Les Temps modernes. And in 2015, his story was revived with the publication of Joseph Andras’s debut novel De nos frères blessés, which will be released in English next month by Verso Books as Tomorrow They Won’t Dare to Murder Us, translated by Simon Leser.

On the day I received my copy of Andras’s book, an armed right-wing mob stormed the Capitol building, led by conspiracy theorists and white supremacists. Reading Andras’s novel, it’s hard not to see the same violent order underlying it all. Today, when the long historic arc of violence—from the cheapening of Black life to the clampdowns that follow the spectacle of a burning Wendy’s—is as clear as it has been in decades, Iveton’s story is worth returning to. Andras’s version of the man is an object lesson in committing to a better future. All the more so because he was killed for it.

Read the rest at Protean Magazine.