(Julliard/Robert Laffont, janvier 2010, 234 pages)
200,000 copies sold in France and still on bestsellers lists!
Wedged between a garbage dump and the sea, Olympus of the Unfortunate is an open field populated with vagabonds and rejects who have chosen to turn their backs on society. There lives One-Eyed Ach, Junior the Simpleton, Mama the Ghostly, The Pasha, its court of drunks and other outcasts who are as dark as they are endearing. It is a land of illusions and great solitude that absorbs disgraces and the most terrible secrets. One-Eyed Ach has taken Junior under his wing. He is a young and naive bum who vows an unlimited admiration to Ach while at the same time subscribing to Horr’s philosophies. Horr is a self-made bum who voluntarily rejects society’s values: money, work, family. Horr is free of any connections or ties. But when a profound affection takes root between the members of this homeless community, any detachment turns out to be a mere illusion. Though they may be immoral and decaying in their own decline, the characters in this tale remain heroic. The spirit of solidarity and the sense of camaraderie that reigns over Horr’s followers contrast with the violence and individualism of modern society. Olympus of the Unfortunate is a metaphor that forcefully denounces our civilization’s decadence. Yasmina Khadra poses as a moralist of our time and the conclusion he delivers is not flattering: the lost souls are not those we thought them to be, and hell is never where we expect to find it.
Following Ce que le jour doit à la nuit(425,000 copies sold), his biggest success in what was already a wildly successful career, Yasmina Khadra uses his powerful eloquence in this fable which takes us headfirst into the world of the homeless.
Yasmina Khadra’s novels have been sold to 37 countries – among which US (Nan A. Talese), UK (Heinemann), Spain (Alianza), Denmark (Gyldendal), Finland (WSOY), the Netherlands (Atlas), Iceland (JPV Utgafa), Norway (Gyldendal Norsk) and Sweden (Alfabeta), and have been awarded numerous literary prizes: Les Agneaux du Seigneur (1998), A quoi rêvent les loups (1999), L’écrivain (2001, Académie Française), Les Hirondelles de Kaboul (2002), L’attentat (2005, Prix des Libraires, film rights optioned to Focus Features) and Les sirènes de Bagdad (2006).
“On retrouve l’humanisme généreux de Khadra dans cette utopie tragi-comique.” Le Nouvel Observateur
“Sa description de la solidarité et du sens de l’entraide de ces laissés-pour-compte est une façon de vilipender l’individualisme et la violence des société modernes.” Livres Hebdo
“Derrière l’intrigue simple de ce petit conte philosophique, l’ancien officier de l’armée algérienne reprend ses thèmes fétiches – fraternité, souffrance de l’humiliation, culpabilité, obscurantisme- pour servir un récit touchant et profondément humaniste.” Direct Soir
The novel’s title, HHhH, refers to an acronym invented by the SS: “Himmlers Hirn heißt Heydrich”, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”. The novel, retracing events from 1938 to 1942, consists of short chapters recounting episodes from different times and places, all converging towards the fateful day of the assassination in Prague.
All the characters really existed – indeed, some are still alive. The author has recounted the facts as faithfully as possible, resisting the temptation to embroider the truth. How should History be narrated? The author himself becomes a character in the book, detailing his own uncertainties, doubts, and hesitations. The search for historical truth is an obsessive and endless quest.
Laurent Binet was born in Paris and is now 37. He was posted to Slovakia for his military service and now divides his time between Paris and Prague. He teaches at both high school and university. HHhH is his first novel.
Foreign rights sold: Castilian (Seix Barral), Catalan (1984 Editions), Chinese complex characters (Ye-Ren), Czech Republic (Argo), Dutch (Meulenhoff), English World (USA: Farrar, Straus & Giroux / UK: Harvill Secker), German (Rowohlt), Hebrew (Kinneret), Hungarian (Europa), Italian (Einaudi), Japanese (Tokyo Sogensha), Norwegian (Gyldendal Norsk), Polish (Wydawnictwo Literackie), Portuguese (Brazil: Companhias das Letras / Portugal: Porto Editora), Slovakia (Marenčin).
Laurent Binet travels back and forth in time and space, between his own personal comments and historical documents, gradually putting together a puzzle that reveals an ever clearer picture of what happened that day, together with a few faces” Nouvel Observateur
“Theheartofhisprojectisthis: aboveall, avoid dressing historical characters up as fictional ones; do not reduce their lived experience to mere narrative material; refuse to strike a pose on the pretext of defending their cause.” Le Monde
Kim Thúy: RU
(Librex, January 2010, 143 pages)
Awarded the Prix RTL/Lire 2010
Shortlisted for numerous prizes in France and Quebec: Prix Nicolas Bouvier 2010, Prix Ouest-France/Étonnants Voyageurs 2010 and Prix Première (RTBF).
42,000 copies sold in Quebec and already 55,000 copies sold in France
Ru is an intimate journey in the untidiness of memories, a nostalgic evocation of the Vietnam that relates the itinerary of a Vietnamese who left Saigon after the communists have arrived. Composed by a series of linked vignettes, Ru is more than a simple “slice-of-life” account. It draws connections between the events experienced by the narrator : her birth in Vietnam during the war, her exodus with the boat people, her introduction to a small Quebec town, her studies, family ties, the birth of her autistic child, etc. As she recounts her story - ﬁlled with charming, unusual people and difficult or absurd situations—she shifts effortlessly from tragedy to comedy, from the everyday to the deeply spiritual, carrying the reader along with her.
Written in a warm and poignant style, this first autobiographical novel, reveals the writer’s ability to use her memories ﬁrst as an invitation to play, then as a gateway to reﬂection. The story of a likeable survivor, this book is a testimony to the richness of life.
Kim Thúy left Vietnam as a boat people at the age of 10, and arrived in Quebec. She has been living in Montreal for 30 years now, working as a seamstress, interpreter, lawyer, restaurant owner and also as ﬁlm director before devoting herself to writing.
Foreign rights sold to: France (Liana Levi), Italy (Nottetempo), Sweden (Sekwa), Germany (Kunstmann), Spain and Latin America (Alfaguara), the Netherlands (Van Gennep), Portugal (Objectiva) Canada (World English rights : Knopf) and Czech Republic (Emitos)
“Kim Thúy nous berce autant qu'elle nous bouleverse.” Elle
“La romancière se dévoile, mais avec grâce et pudeur.” Télérama
“Fragments de mémoire poétiquement entremêlés.” La Vie
“Ru est plus qu'un livre, une révélation.” Les Echos
“Peu de descriptions, et, pourtant, des images fortes qui viennent se greffer dans l’esprit du lecteur. Une remarquable entrée en littérature.” L’Express
“… elle refuse en effet l'apitoiement, travestit le misérabilisme, ignore la rancoeur et se moque de la chronologie. Même le malheur, elle le traite à la légère… “ RU”est du jamais lu” Le Nouvel Observateur