RIGHTS ALREADY SOLD FOR THE GERMAN LANGUAGE !!!
This novel is Nadia’s story, a child then a teenager, learning to read and discover the world. Two worlds confront each other: the world of school, and that of home, almost completely independent of each other. What is the meaning of Geography, with its capes, peninsulas, climatic systems and peaks, compared to each pupil’s secret geography? What is the meaning of History, with its dates and heroes, compared to Nadia’s banal story, her life on a poor estate in the aftermath of the Algerian war? How to explain that war, the war which does not appear in her books? It is not at school that she is told about the Pieds-Noirs – the French colonists in Algeria – the Harkis – the Algerian soldiers in the French army – the Fellaghas – the independence fighters – or about racist attacks. It is in the stairway of her building that she hears this, that she learns that she is the daughter of an appelé – a conscript, and she will have to find the definition of all these words by herself.
It is not so much what we learn at school that matters, but how school shapes our vision of the world, how this parallel universe becomes the common denominator for a whole generation. To answer one’s name when the register is called; to wait for one’s turn; write down the right answer; wait till the school mistress looks at you… And also, be an obedient witness when a punishment goes too far, learn how to lie to adults, resist them.
Brigitte Giraud was born in Algeria in 1960. She worked as a journalist and as a librarian, and is now in charge of the important Bron Book Festival near Lyon. She has published three novels and a novella: La chambre des parents (Fayard, 1997), Nico (Stock, 1999), Marée noire (Stock, 2004) and A présent (Stock, 2001).