Cousin K

Cousin K

by Yasmina Khadra
     
 

“Such was the battle that raged between Cousin K and me: good done badly; evil done well.” And such is the twisted logic of good and bad, right and wrong, knitted into this novella by one of the most powerful voices to emerge from North Africa in our time. With his father brutally killed as a traitor during a national liberation war and his older

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Overview

“Such was the battle that raged between Cousin K and me: good done badly; evil done well.” And such is the twisted logic of good and bad, right and wrong, knitted into this novella by one of the most powerful voices to emerge from North Africa in our time. With his father brutally killed as a traitor during a national liberation war and his older brother an army officer far away, the young narrator lives reclusively with his mother, who scorns him. He turns to his young cousin for affection, only to be mocked and humiliated so deeply that his love becomes hopelessly entangled with hatred. 

Fate places a young woman in the narrator’s path when he rescues her from a violent attack, and the reawakening of his confused passions proceeds toward terrible vengeance. In this nameless narrator’s tormented reflections, played out against the backdrop of an indifferent world, Yasmina Khadra plumbs the mysteries of the crippled heart’s desires.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Like the alienated character of Camus’ The Stranger—which clearly influenced this first-person confessional by Mohammed Moulessehoul (The Sirens of Baghdad), writing under a pseudonym—the peculiar boy who inhabits the manor at a remote Algerian township remains a perfect cipher. But he is a particularly vindictive one. Our nameless protagonist is tormented by his beloved cousin from the city, though her absence makes him equally miserable. “Without her, I am nothing but a swelling bruise, a ripening calamity.” Eventually, he is transformed into “a pillar of self-torment” seemingly capable only of inflicting pain and suffering on others. Whether this peevish provincial scion is disturbed because he discovered his father’s brutalized corpse, because of the vehement rejection of his mother, or because he’s psychotic, the book does not say. The best passages involve the intermittent visits of the narrator’s cherished brother, as seen through the eyes of the rejected son: “My mother could not contain herself.... Her suffering was even greater now that he was here. Her eyes bespoke childbirth; her joined hands recalled the praying Virgin.” While the novella feels fractional, offering only piecemeal glimpses of the protagonists, it is atmospheric and the writing is tense and lyrical. (Apr. 1)
New York Journal of Books - Steve Emmett

"Cousin K may be a small book but it is a giant of a literary work."—Steve Emmett, New York Journal of Books
L'Humanit&233;
Praise for the French edition:

Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. With a kind of enraged obstinacy, Yasmina Khadra applies his lapidary style to the exploration of some of the human soul’s muddiest depths. Here as elsewhere in his work, the inner life, as alienated as it might be, never takes leave of worldly realities. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité
— Jean-Claude Lebrun

L'Humanité
Praise for the French edition:

Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. With a kind of enraged obstinacy, Yasmina Khadra applies his lapidary style to the exploration of some of the human soul’s muddiest depths. Here as elsewhere in his work, the inner life, as alienated as it might be, never takes leave of worldly realities. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité
— Jean-Claude Lebrun

L'Humanite
Praise for the French edition:

Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. With a kind of enraged obstinacy, Yasmina Khadra applies his lapidary style to the exploration of some of the human soul’s muddiest depths. Here as elsewhere in his work, the inner life, as alienated as it might be, never takes leave of worldly realities. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité
— Jean-Claude Lebrun

L'Humanit�
Praise for the French edition:

Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. With a kind of enraged obstinacy, Yasmina Khadra applies his lapidary style to the exploration of some of the human soul’s muddiest depths. Here as elsewhere in his work, the inner life, as alienated as it might be, never takes leave of worldly realities. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité
— Jean-Claude Lebrun

L'Humanit� - Jean-Claude Lebrun
Praise for the French edition:

Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. With a kind of enraged obstinacy, Yasmina Khadra applies his lapidary style to the exploration of some of the human soul’s muddiest depths. Here as elsewhere in his work, the inner life, as alienated as it might be, never takes leave of worldly realities. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780803234932
Publisher:
University of Nebraska Press
Publication date:
04/01/2013
Series:
French Voices Series
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.30(d)

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Meet the Author


Yasmina Khadra is the feminine pseudonym adopted by Mohammed Moulessehoul to avoid military censorship. Moulessehoul was born in the Algerian Sahara in 1955 and at one time was an officer in the Algerian military. His recent fiction trilogy on Middle Eastern realities—The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, and The Sirens of Baghdad—has been widely acclaimed and translated. Moulessehoul is now retired from the military and living in France. Donald Nicholson-Smith and Alyson Waters are both seasoned translators. This is their first translation together.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Aix-en-Provence, France
Date of Birth:
January 10, 1955
Place of Birth:
Kenadsa, Sahara, Algeria
Education:
Officer in the Algerian army
Website:
http://www.yasmina-khadra.com

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