FICTION

Our Riches

. New Directions. Apr. 2020. 160p. from French by Chris Andrews. ISBN 9780811228152. pap. $15.95. LITERARY.
COPY ISBN
Adimi makes her English-language debut with this elegant and affecting Prix Goncourt short-listed, multi-prize-winning work, which reimagines the history of Les Vraies Richesses, a bookstore/library blend opened in 1936 Algiers by young Edmond Charlot, who also served as enterprising publisher to significant authors including Albert Camus. The story takes the visionary Charlot from Algiers to World War II Paris (where he opened a branch of his business) to pointedly depicted postwar agitation for Algerian independence, weaving in an account of contemporary plans to turn the bookstore—which had become a national library annex—into a beignet shop. Hapless Ryad, charged with cleaning out the store, simply cannot understand what it has meant to the well-etched community (not to mention literary history): "We are the people of this city and our memory is the sum of all our stories."
VERDICT Both gorgeous paean to literature and historically astute observation; highly recommended for book lovers everywhere.

 

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