Magazine article New Internationalist

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Magazine article New Internationalist

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Article excerpt

This astonishingly direct and fresh novel caused a sensation in France when it was first published -- under a pseudonym -- in 1997. The narrative, which is structured as a series of diary entries, concerns Paul Smail, a young man of Arab origin as he tries to make his way in the seedy and down-at-heel suburbs of Paris. Although he is a literature graduate (who peppers his story with references to his heroes Conrad, Melville and Stevenson) the casual, everyday racism of society means that Paul is trapped in menial, low-paid jobs: night-watchman and pizza delivery-boy. When he does get a job slightly more suited to his education -- as a bookshop assistant -- he clashes with the bigotry underlying polite society and is able to keep neither the job nor his new-found girlfriend, Myriam. …

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