What you can't miss:
Born in Anjouan (Comoro Islands) in 1987, Ali Zamir is the author of four novels. He studied at the University of Cairo and after obtaining an MA in French Literature, he returned to Anjouan (Comoros) to take up a post as Director of Culture and Cooperative Activities. He now lives in Montpellier, France, where he continues to write.
First published in French as Anguille sous roche in 2016, A Girl Called Eel was his first novel and the first to be translated into English. It won the prestigiuos Prix Senghor in 2016. Ali's third novel Dérangé que je suis (2019) will be published in English as Deranged as I am in November 2022.
Eel is a 17-year-old girl who leaves her rock on the archipelago of Comoros to lose herself at sea. She drifts between two states of mind and between two islands ‘in a hollow maze’, evoking her memories so as to forget nothing and so as to delay the inevitable outcome.
Confronted with the pressing immediacy of imminent death, Eel recounts the story of her whole life in one long, sustained breath, in a series of brief couplets.
A story told in a single sentence, A Girl Called Eel is a memorial, a reckoning, and a powerful narrative imbued with a prevailing sense of urgency.
This whirlwind of a novel takes place over just a few days, yet Zamir's poetic and energetic prose transports us to the docks, its noises, colours, and smells, and the dynamism of his language along with his powerful mix of genres, and the cleverness of his verbal invention perfectly serve this tragicomedy that makes us feel both joy and pity. Yet this lively and often darkly humorous prose does not draw away from the more serious themes of class, poverty, and exploitation that Zamir explores. A rich and significant text that questions literature and language itself, Deranged As I Am confirms the very original place Zamir occupies in French literature.
Out November 2022
Disclaimer: Books by our festival guests will be available during and after the event from our partnering bookshop, Prestige Bookshop