“My name is Fatima Daas. The name of a girl from Clichy who crosses the tracks to get to school.”
An autobiographical first novel, The Last One tells the story of Fatima and her family. The confusing polarities between different worlds and cultures that are portrayed sparked an intense Media debate in France. Although based on true events and experiences, Fatima Daas changed certain aspects in order to be free to write what she wanted, and convey her feelings about specific events. Continue reading Review | The Last One, Fatima Daas, trs. Lara Vergnaud | HopeRoad Publishing
How many of you have heard of Ethel Mannin (1900-84)? She wrote over a hundred books, including novels, political reflections, autobiographical memoirs and travel-writing, but she has received precious little attention since her death. To my knowledge, in the past fifteen years, writing about her has been limited to two short studies, a publication of an extract, and the posting of two PDFs (see Notes at the end of this article). Why hasn’t some post-grad seized the opportunity to study Mannin? Too much reading already? She seems perfect for an independent publisher like Persephone Books to pick up and reissue. But perhaps she is too radical, or there are myriad complex copyright issues to be resolved.
Continue reading Spotlight | Forgotten Women Writers: Ethel Mannin, Colin MacInnes & the Young Adult Novel in 1950s Britain
Turf Wars is the second of Olivier Norek’s Captain Coste trilogy, set in the banlieues of Paris.
Norek has an unusual C.V. Born in Toulouse in 1975, he worked for a humanitarian charity in in the 1990s, and contributed to the re-construction of hospitals and refugee camps in Guyana and the former Yugoslavia. He then joined the French marines for two years, before becoming a policeman in 1997. After working in the police force in Paris for eighteen years, he started his fourth career: crime writer. To date, he’s published six novels and he was one of the writers for the sixth series of Engrenages (Spiral). Continue reading Guest Review | Turf Wars (2) Olivier Norek trs. Nick Caistor | MacLehose Press
Imbued with her hallmark humour and heightened sensitivity, Faïza Guène’s Men Don’t Cry (Un homme, ça ne pleure pas) is her latest offering to lovers of good fiction in translation, deftly rendered into English by Sarah Ardizzone. We witness a family struggling with exile and integration as experienced by Mourad, born in Nice to Algerian parents.
He is keen to escape the clutches of his well-meaning but excessively controlling mother who imposes traditional ways of thinking and living on her three children – along with copious helpings of home-cooked food – handing down community values and morality in a bid to fend off the potentially corrupting influence of the host culture, and to impose order on the complexities of modern France. Continue reading Review | Men Don’t Cry, Faïza Guène | Cassava Republic Press
The king’s fool has had a distinct, privileged and vital role to play at royal courts throughout history. Mahi Binebine’s fool is contemporary, even though the story reads as though it happened in a distant past, since it is inspired by the fate of the author’s father and brother at the court of King Hassan II of Morocco. Continue reading Review | The King’s Fool, Mahi Binebine | MacLehose Press