“Voix des banlieues”

Over at the Observer, Jason Burke catches up with Faïza Guène, the “voice of the suburbs.” (What? You didn’t know there was only one? Well, now you know.)

Guène’s parents came from Algeria and her family – father a manual worker, mother who has never worked (As if, Ed.)- is very close. The fact that many readers, especially in France, jumped to the conclusion that the broken family of the novel is her own irritates her – ‘I have written a novel, but I always end up being asked about social issues and so on.’ It is part of the stereotyping that much of the book is devoted to combating.

Though not intellectuals, Guène’s parents were ‘deeply respectful’ of books, she tells me. ‘I learned to read when I was very young,’ Guène says. But in Les Courtillières, the large, public-housing projects where Guène grew up and still lives, there were almost no cultural facilities at all. ‘Books are expensive things. My book in its first edition cost €18. If I hadn’t written it, I would not have bought it.’

Guène’s first book is due out in the United States in June, under the title Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow (in an excellent translation by Sarah Adams, by the way.)