Seems I’ve been off my blog for a bit. Good to get back and check in with Marc’s impression and Ted’s hawgblawg, for instance (see “blogs not bombs” sidebar). Ceasefire. I feel strange getting back to mundane blog postings like the one I’m about to do on young adult literature. But here goes.
Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène (translated from the French by Sarah Adams, NY: Harvest/Harcourt, 2006 – originally published in 2004 by Hachette) takes place in Paris, in the projects. First-person narrative by Doria, who’s got a great brash voice — her mom is illiterate, works cleaning a hotel. The dad, whom Doria calls “the Beard,” left his family and returned to Morocco, where Doria assumes he’ll remarry and finally get the son he wants. Doria’s insights on the psychologist and the social workers range from caustic to hilarious, and she calls everything just as she sees it. Like this:
Since the old man split we’ve had a whole parade of social workers coming to the apartment. Can’t remember the new one’s name, but it’s something like Dubois or Dupont or Dupré, a name that tells you she’s from somewhere, from a real family line or something. I think she’s stupid, and she smiles all the time for no good reason. Even when it’s clearly not the right time. It’s like the crazy woman feels the need to be happy for other people because they aren’t happy for themselves. Once, she asked if I wanted us to be friends. Like a little brat I told her I didn’t see that happening. But I guess I messed up, because the look my mother gave me cut me in half. She was probably scared social services would cut off our benefits if I didn’t make nice with their stupid social worker.
Before Mme DuThingamajig, it was a man… Total opposite of Mme DuWhatsit. He never cracked a joke, he never smiled, and he dressed like Professor Calculus in The Adventures of Tintin. Once he told my mom that in ten years on this job, this was the first time he’d seen “people like you with only one child.” He was thinking “Arabs,” but he didn’t say so. Coming to our place was like an exotic experience for him. He kept giving weird looks to all the knick-knacks around the house, the ones my mom brought over from Morocco after she got married. And since we wore babouches at home, he’d take off his shoes when he walked in, trying to do the right thing. Except he had alien feet. His second toe was at least ten times longer than his big toe. It looked like he was giving us the finger through his socks. And then there was the stench. The whole time he played the sweet, compassionate type, but it was all a front. He didn’t give a shit about us. Besides, he quit.
Faïza Guène is French-Algerian, nineteen years old. Can’t wait to see what she writes next.