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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Art of Losing

The Art of Losing

A Novel

Alice Zeniter; Translated from the French by Frank Wynne

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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A gripping, multigenerational tale of a French Algerian woman reckoning with her family's secret past and the inescapable legacies of colonialism

Naïma’s family comes from Algeria, but she knows it only from what she experiences in her grandparents’ tiny apartment in Normandy: the food her grandmother cooks, the precious things they carried when they fled. Naïma’s father claims to remember nothing, has made himself French. But now, one of them is going back; Naïma will see for herself what was left behind—including the family secrets.

How do we protect our families and choose the right side of war, revolution? What price will our descendants pay for the choices we make? Will they judge us fairly? During the War for Algerian Independence, Naïma’s grandfather went from being the wealthy owner of a olive grove to an immigrant scratching out a living in France. Her search reveals how the battle against colonial rule reshaped communities, created deep rifts within families, and let the whims of whoever might be in power instantly overturn the lives of ordinary people.

Alice Zeniter’s The Art of Losing is a powerful, moving family novel that spans three generations, across seventy years and two shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a resonant, accessible history of Algeria and the diaspora through the people who lived it. It is also the story of how we carry on in the face of loss: loss of a country, identity, language, connection. And it is, ultimately, an immersive, unforgettable e… More…

A gripping, multigenerational tale of a French Algerian woman reckoning with her family's secret past and the inescapable legacies of colonialism

Naïma’s family comes from Algeria, but she knows it only from what she experiences in her grandparents’ tiny apartment in Normandy: the food her grandmother cooks, the precious things they carried when they fled. Naïma’s father claims to remember nothing, has made himself French. But now, one of them is going back; Naïma will see for herself what was left behind—including the family secrets.

How do we protect our families and choose the right side of war, revolution? What price will our descendants pay for the choices we make? Will they judge us fairly? During the War for Algerian Independence, Naïma’s grandfather went from being the wealthy owner of a olive grove to an immigrant scratching out a living in France. Her search reveals how the battle against colonial rule reshaped communities, created deep rifts within families, and let the whims of whoever might be in power instantly overturn the lives of ordinary people.

Alice Zeniter’s The Art of Losing is a powerful, moving family novel that spans three generations, across seventy years and two shores of the Mediterranean Sea. It is a resonant, accessible history of Algeria and the diaspora through the people who lived it. It is also the story of how we carry on in the face of loss: loss of a country, identity, language, connection. And it is, ultimately, an immersive, unforgettable excavation of the personal legacies of colonialism, immigration, and war.

Less…

Prologue


For some years now, Naïma has been feeling a new kind of pain: one that arrives like clockwork with her hangovers. It is not just the splitting headache, the furred tongue, the churning, malfunctioning stomach. These days, when...

Alice Zeniter; Translated from the French by Frank Wynne

Alice Zeniter is a French novelist, translator, scriptwriter, and director. Her novel Take This Man was published in English by Europa Editions in 2011. Zeniter has won many awards for her work in France, including the Prix Littéraire de la Porte Dorée, the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, which was awarded to The Art of Losing. She lives in Brittany.

Frank Wynne has translated the work of many authors including Michel Houellebecq, Boualem Sansal, Frédéric Beigbeder, and the late Ivoirian novelist Ahmadou Kourouma. He won the International IMPAC Literary Award with Houellebecq for The Elementary Particles.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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