Is it possible to make your own path in the world while upholding your family legacy? That's the question at the heart of this tender and poignant coming-of-age story from the widely-acclaimed author of Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow.
Born in Nice to Algerian parents, Mourad is fuelled by the desire to forge his own destiny. His retired father spends his days fixing up things in the backyard; his mother, bemoaning the loss of her natal village in North Africa. Mourad lives in fear of becoming an overweight bachelor with salt and pepper hair, living off his mother's cooking. When Mourad’s father has a stroke, he makes his son promise to reconcile things with his estranged sister Dounia, a staunch feminist and aspiring politician, who had always felt constrained living at home. Now living in the Paris suburbs himself, Mourad tracks down Dounia and battles to span the gulf separating her and the rest of the family.
'It's not an exaggeration to suggest that Guéne is doing for the people, especially the youth, of the banlieu what James Kelman and Agnes Owens have done for the deprived of Glasgow's housing schemes: that is, give a voice to those who have been excluded from literature ... Guéne is very evidently a natural novelist, a young writer of real talent'~Allan Massie, Scotsman
Super-young, super-cool and fast becoming known as one of the hottest literary talents of multicultural Europe, Guéne takes us on a tour of tough suburbs of Paris and Algeria, where having the wrong-colour passport sentences you to half-life. Our home ... is an unforgettable narrator.
'Ahléme has wit, wisdom and charisma that puts the reader firmly on her side as she does her best to find the small scraps of hope she needs to keep her going in tough situations'
'It's sad, it's funny, it's stuffed full of talent.'
Not since director Matthieu Kassovitz's 1995 hit film La Haine has there been such a compelling portrait of the Parisian suburbs ... but unlike Kassovitz's bleak movie, Guéne's book is uplifting and ultimately optimistic.
'France's surprise publishing hit of 2004 was not the latest Houellebecq or Beigbeder but a tender and funny first novel by a 19-year-old writer of Algerian parentage about her run-down high-rise estate north of Paris. Faïza Guéne instantly became the ‘Sagan des Cités’, or the Brontë of the ‘burbs. Full of humanity and wry humour, stuffed with memorable characters, praised to the skies by Le Monde, Le Figa, Elle and just about every other newspaper and magazine, the novel is a kind of French White Teeth. L’Express’s critic called Faïza Guéne "a phenomenon filled with vital energy"'
'ENGAGING ... Along with the corpse himself, (the suspects) tell their stories in a series of monologues and this is where Guéne, with the help of an excellent translation by Ardizzone, really shines'~Laura Wilson, Guardian
'The various monologues very cleverly paint the picture of a day in the life of this deprived society, [it] is very thoroughly and convincingly done ... She writes with intelligence and sympathy, with humour and understanding'~Allan Massie, Scotsman
'One of the most exciting novelists to emerge in recent years'
The bright buoyancy of Guène’s voice, plus the humour and generosity make Men Don’t Cry a sophisticated and immediately entertaining read. – The Guardian
“Faïza Guène is an important voice in French literature, rebelliously dissecting ideas of home, identity and belonging with a universally accessible intimacy and power.”
Diana Evans, author of Ordinary People
“A tender portrayal of manhood, Men Don’t Cry brims with humour, distinct voices and colourful characters. Through Mourad’s shy narration, Faïza highlights France’s elephant in the room in this timely, thought-provoking and joyous read.”
Olumide Popoola, author of When We Speak of Nothing