The French Muslim community numbers nearly 6 million, according to Joseph Downing, author of French Muslims in Perspective: Nationalism, Post-Colonialism and Marginalisation under the Republic. The largest in Western Europe, it has more often than not been under a harsh spotlight following years of terrorist attacks, national debates over the hijab, the burkini and the right to offend and blaspheme.
Most are modest Muslims leading normal lives, appreciative of laïcité (secularism) and its freedoms, while the number of violent extremists is estimated to be only in the few thousands – “less than 1% of the French Muslim population become jihadists” – though this reality is not that which is portrayed by the mainstream Media. Many are fashioning new Islamic institutions and developing new ways of listening, reasoning and teaching.
Continue reading Review | French Muslims in Perspective: Nationalism, Post-Colonialism and Marginalisation under the Republic, Joseph Downing | Palgrave Macmillan
Pierre Lemaitre, the Prix Goncourt-winning French novelist and screenwriter behind the Paris Crime Files a.k.a. Verhœven series, is brought to English-language readers by the publisher behind Stieg Larsson, Henning Mankell and Jo Nesbø. So much for having a shrewd eye for genuinely original storytelling and talent-spotting big hitters from foreign climes, not just once but again and again and again . . . chapeau!
Rosy & John, translated by word wizard Frank Wynne, is published today. It is the fourth and last book in the Verhœven series. The opening description of an eight year old boy seeing “the body of his father soar into the air as though a giant hand has punched him in the solar plexus” when a bomb explodes in a Paris street, evoking the November 2015 Paris attacks, is both globally apocalyptic and highly personal. Continue reading Spotlight | Rosy & John, Pierre Lemaitre #FrenchNoir | MacLehose Press
The Moroccan poet, novelist, essayist, and journalist, Tahar Ben Jelloun, is one of France’s most celebrated writers. He has written extensively about Moroccan culture, the immigrant experience, human rights, and sexual identity. An author who intervenes in politics, On Terrorism: Conversations with My Daughter (translated from the French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins) is the third book in a series in which the previous titles are Racism and Islam explained. It takes the form of a semi-imagined dialogue between him and his daughter. Continue reading Review | On Terrorism: Conversations with My Daughter, Tahar Ben Jelloun | Small Axes/HopeRoad
#Marina Warner, President of the Royal Society of Literature, announcing the arrival of the Choix Goncourt in the UK, said: “When the date of this event was set, nobody knew that a crucial election would be taking place. In the light of what has happened, I feel alarmed and frightened of the future. I am therefore proud to be marking a moment of Franco-British solidarity. The spirit of European culture built on the common ground of imagination and a long intertwined history is under strain, but it shall not be broken . . .” Continue reading Spotlight | The Choix #Goncourt UK | @AcadGoncourt @RSLiterature @Edlolivier @maclehosepress
“He is off his head. He has episodes when he zones out. It is not unpleasant. From time to time, he tries to reason with himself: he cannot stay here indefinitely, it has been a cold summer, he will catch another bout of flu, he needs to take care of himself, he needs to go back down into the city, find some clean clothes, do something [ . . .] Painfully, he climbs over the railings separating the communal garden from the property where he has taken to sleeping. He grips the branches and hoists his body up almost falling flat on his face on the other side. He ends up kneeling on the ground. He wishes he could feel sorry for himself, or disgust. Anything. But no, nothing. Nothing but this absurd calm.”
Look who’s back . . . and sleeping rough now that sofa surfing is a thing of the past: Vernon, Mr. Superstar D.J. and former owner of cult record shop ‘Revolver’. At the end of Vernon Subutex 1 he was beaten up by a gang of neo-Nazis – along with his TV screenwriter friend, Xavier, who was trying to rescue him but ended up comatose in hospital instead. Continue reading Review | Vernon Subutex 2, Virginie Despentes | Maclehose Press