Publication Date: 03/03/2022 ISBN: 9781509884131 Category:

The Art of Losing

Alice Zeniter, Frank Wynne

Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Publication Date: 03/03/2022 ISBN: 9781509884131 Category:
Paperback / Softback




Winner of the International Dublin Literary Award

‘Remarkable . . . a novel about people that never loses its sense of humanity.’ Sunday Times

‘Zeniter’s extraordinary achievement is to transform a complicated conflict into a compelling family chronicle’ Wall Street Journal

Naima has always known that her family came from Algeria – but up until now, that meant very little to her. Born and raised in France, her knowledge of that foreign country is limited to what she’s learned from her grandparents’ tiny flat in a crumbling French sink estate: the food cooked for her, the few precious things they brought with them when they fled.

On the past, her family is silent. Why was her grandfather Ali forced to leave? Was he a harki – an Algerian who worked for and supported the French during the Algerian War of Independence? Once a wealthy landowner, how did he become an immigrant scratching a living in France?

Naima’s father, Hamid, says he remembers nothing. A child when the family left, in France he re-made himself: education was his ticket out of the family home, the key to acceptance into French society.

But now, for the first time since they left, one of Ali’s family is going back. Naima will see Algeria for herself, will ask the questions about her family’s history that, till now, have had no answers.

Spanning three generations across seventy years, Alice Zeniter’s The Art of Losing tells the story of how people carry on in the face of loss: the loss of a country, an identity, a way to speak to your children. It’s a story of colonization and immigration, and how in some ways, we are a product of the things we’ve left behind.

Translated from the French by Frank Wynne

Publisher Review

With its panoramic vision and generous spirit, The Art of Losing finds shoots of hope amid the stony landscapes of the past. * Spectator * Remarkable . . . Because it deals with immigration, nationalism and Islam, it speaks urgently to our time . . . a novel about people that never loses its sense of humanity. * Sunday Times, 'Translated Book of the Month' * Visceral . . . An incredible [book] . . . that requires rapt attention. It is a novel that scales the walls of history and excavates lessons with curiosity and anger. * Observer * This pacy, complex piece of historical fiction (which was nominated for France's most prestigious literary award, the Prix Goncourt) explores the tangled reality of identity. * New Statesman * If you think of historical fiction as a way of translating the past, does your perspective change when that fiction has been translated from another language? . . . This added dimension can make a book even richer, even more provocative. And none demonstrates that better than . . . The Art of Losing. * New York Times Book Review * Ms. Zeniter's extraordinary achievement is to transform a complicated conflict into a compelling family chronicle, rich in visual detail and lustrous in language. * Wall Street Journal * An exceptional novel, a masterful meditation on the negative space of history. With surgical control and deep emotional precision, Alice Zeniter tells the story of a family at once severed from and forever tethered to its past. -- Omar El Akkad, author of American War A deeply human text about the ghosts of identity and decolonization. * Vanity Fair * A captivating exploration of the unspoken stories of the Algerian war. * Le Monde * A powerful family saga . . . [Zeniter] shows how history is passed down from generation to generation, in stories pockmarked by what's left unsaid. * L'Obs * Zeniter captures all manner of emotions one might imagine, and others that would not occur to those of us who have never had to endure such trauma. -- Tim House * Financial Times *

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