Lyrical and radical, a debut novel that created a sensation in France
Winner of the Prix Goncourt for first novel, one of the most prestigious literary awards in France
A young revolutionary plants a bomb in a factory on the outskirts of Algiers during the Algerian War. The bomb is timed to explode after work hours, so no one will be hurt. But the authorities have been watching. He is caught, the bomb is defused, and he is tortured, tried in a day, condemned to death, and thrown into a cell to await the guillotine. A routine event, perhaps, in a brutal conflict that ended the lives of more than a million Muslim Algerians.
But what if the militant is a “pied-noir”? What if his lover was a member of the French Resistance? What happens to a “European” who chooses the side of anti-colonialism?
By turns lyrical, meditative, and heart-stoppingly suspenseful, this novel by Joseph Andras, based on a true story, was a literary and political sensation in France, winning the Prix Goncourt for First Novel and being acclaimed by Le Monde as “vibrantly lyrical and somber” and by the journal La Croix as a “masterpiece”.
About the Author
Joseph Andras is the author of the novels De nos frères blessés and Kanaky. Awarded the Prix Goncourt du premier roman for De nos frères blessés, he refused the prize, explaining his belief that "competition and rivalry were foreign to writing and creation." He lives in Le Havre.
“Joseph Andras writes with the swiftness of lightning. In vivid strokes, he illuminates both the interiority of a courageous man facing death for his convictions and the devastation wreaked by French colonialism in Algeria. The moral and political urgency, as well as the depth of the tragedy, still resonates in Andras’s powerful account of the life and death of Fernand Iveton.”
—Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Committed
“A clear-eyed recreation of postwar Communism and the armed battle against tyranny, shot through with intense prose and insight into the characters’ inner lives.”
“A promising debut … Andras revives a lost moment in history.”