Shantytown Kid

Overview

One day an illiterate Algerian immigrant in Lyon gave his son, Azouz Begag, a book, saying, “This book is a bird.” How Begag took flight on the wings of learning is one of the stories that unfolds in this captivating autobiographical novel of growing up amid the multicultural complexities of contemporary France. 
 
Determined to leave behind the poverty of his shantytown life, Begag works to become a star pupil at the local primary ...

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Overview

One day an illiterate Algerian immigrant in Lyon gave his son, Azouz Begag, a book, saying, “This book is a bird.” How Begag took flight on the wings of learning is one of the stories that unfolds in this captivating autobiographical novel of growing up amid the multicultural complexities of contemporary France. 
 
Determined to leave behind the poverty of his shantytown life, Begag works to become a star pupil at the local primary school—earning the jealousy and rejection of his Arab playmates even as he contends with the anti-Arab racism of his French peers. Begag’s moving and often comical account of negotiating a path between the competing cultural spaces encountered during his childhood is a compelling tale of coming of age in a world of ethnic and racial tensions. A story for all ages, it is also very much of the moment, offering unique insights into the reweaving of the social fabric of France in response to growing ethnic diversity.

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Editorial Reviews

Oxford Journal - Mathilde von Bulow

"Anyone with an interest in post-colonial cultures and ethnic relations will find Begag's writings both stimulating and perceptive."—Mathilde von Bulow, Oxford Journal
Arab Studies Journal - Gretchen Head

“By writing what is in many ways a classic coming-of-age story, as reminiscent in spirit of Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups as of any works that are specifically Arab or North African, Begag has successfully avoided producing a misérabiliste depiction of France’s immigrant community. In this way, Shantytown Kid stands out from the ever growing genre of beur literature that often relies on stereotypical portrayals of immigrants as the passive victims of economic hardship and societal racism.”—Gretchen Head, Arab Studies Journal
Danielle Marx-Scouras

“Begag breaks into the French language and Republic with subversive humor and style, forcefully rendered in the first English-language translation of a personal trajectory intimately intertwined with the evolution of French society since the 1960s.”—Danielle Marx-Scouras, author of La France de Zebda 1981–2004
James D. LeSueur

“This beautifully translated and brilliantly introduced novel will hereafter serve as the essential starting point for an English-reading public desiring to make sense out of the urgent immigration and housing debates in contemporary France.”—James D. Le Sueur, author of Uncivil War: Intellectuals and Identity Politics during the Decolonization of Algeria
Mark McKinney

“A delightful coming-of-age story. This groundbreaking work mixes fiction and autobiographical elements to create a compelling portrait of the North African community in France.”—Mark McKinney, associate professor of French at Miami University
Danielle Marx-Scouras
"Begag breaks into the French language and Republic with subversive humor and style, forcefully rendered in the first English-language translation of a personal trajectory intimately intertwined with the evolution of French society since the 1960s."

-Danielle Marx-Scouras, author of La France de Zebda 1981-2004

Mark McKinney
"A delightful coming-of-age story. This groundbreaking work mixes fiction and autobiographical elements to create a compelling portrait of the North African community in France."

-Mark McKinney, associate professor of French at Miami University

Historical Novels Review

“What a delightful little book this is. . . . [Shantytown Kid] is a comic, heartwarming, coming-of-age story. . . . [It is] light, witty, and full of amusing twists. . . . Until the last page, the story keeps the reader totally engaged, and most of the time, smiling. Thank you, translators.”—Historical Novels Review
Arab Studies Journal
"By writing what is in many ways a classic coming-of-age story, as reminiscent in spirit of Truffaut's Les Quatre Cents Coups as of any works that are specifically Arab or North African, Begag has successfully avoided producing a misérabiliste depiction of France's immigrant community. In this way, Shantytown Kid stands out from the ever growing genre of beur literature that often relies on stereotypical portrayals of immigrants as the passive victims of economic hardship and societal racism."

— Gretchen Head, Arab Studies Journal

James D. LeSueur
"This beautifully translated and brilliantly introduced novel will hereafter serve as the essential starting point for an English-reading public desiring to make sense out of the urgent immigration and housing debates in contemporary France."

-James D. Le Sueur, author of Uncivil War: Intellectuals and Identity Politics during the Decolonization of Algeria

Oxford Journal
"Anyone with an interest in post-colonial cultures and ethnic relations will find Begag''s writings both stimulating and perceptive."

— Mathilde von Bulow, Oxford Journal

Historical Novels Review

“What a delightful little book this is. . . . [Shantytown Kid] is a comic, heartwarming, coming-of-age story. . . . [It is] light, witty, and full of amusing twists. . . . Until the last page, the story keeps the reader totally engaged, and most of the time, smiling. Thank you, translators.”—Historical Novels Review

Oxford Journal

"Anyone with an interest in post-colonial cultures and ethnic relations will find Begag''s writings both stimulating and perceptive."—Mathilde von Bulow, Oxford Journal

— Mathilde von Bulow

Arab Studies Journal

“By writing what is in many ways a classic coming-of-age story, as reminiscent in spirit of Truffaut’s Les Quatre Cents Coups as of any works that are specifically Arab or North African, Begag has successfully avoided producing a misérabiliste depiction of France’s immigrant community. In this way, Shantytown Kid stands out from the ever growing genre of beur literature that often relies on stereotypical portrayals of immigrants as the passive victims of economic hardship and societal racism.”—Gretchen Head, Arab Studies Journal

— Gretchen Head

Danielle Marx-Scouras

“Begag breaks into the French language and Republic with subversive humor and style, forcefully rendered in the first English-language translation of a personal trajectory intimately intertwined with the evolution of French society since the 1960s.”—Danielle Marx-Scouras, author of La France de Zebda 1981–2004

James D. LeSueur

“This beautifully translated and brilliantly introduced novel will hereafter serve as the essential starting point for an English-reading public desiring to make sense out of the urgent immigration and housing debates in contemporary France.”—James D. Le Sueur, author of Uncivil War: Intellectuals and Identity Politics during the Decolonization of Algeria

Mark McKinney

“A delightful coming-of-age story. This groundbreaking work mixes fiction and autobiographical elements to create a compelling portrait of the North African community in France.”—Mark McKinney, associate professor of French at Miami University

KLIATT - KLIATT Review
A recent translation of Begag's 1986 portrayal of his youth in an Arab shantytown on the banks of the Rhone in Lyon, France, this autobiographic novel both charms and informs. A bright and sensitive child, Begag loves his small community but is nevertheless determined to excel at school and prove to his French teachers that he is as capable as his native French classmates. This ambition alienates him from his Arab classmates, but he continues to study. His memoir/novel follows him through his family's move to the center of Lyon and eventually, when he is about 12 years old, to their preparations to move to a large urban housing project. As an adult, Begag became a member of the Chirac government in 2005 as Minister for Equal Opportunities. This position and his own experiences provide the material for his reflections on the situation of the North African community living in France (somewhat against the wishes of the French). The Bison edition adds a glossary and a guide to "non-standard pronunciation of French." All French terms are translated in the text and there is also a bibliography. Strongly recommended as supplemental reading for history and sociology courses. Age Range: Ages 15 to adult. REVIEWER: Patricia Moore (Vol. 42, No. 1)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803262584
  • Publisher: UNP - Bison Books
  • Publication date: 4/28/2007
  • Pages: 216
  • Sales rank: 525,820
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Azouz Begag, widely acclaimed as both a novelist and a researcher at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), was appointed France’s first minister for equal opportunities and was the nation’s first cabinet minister of North African immigrant origin in 2005. He is the author of more than twenty books, including the sociopolitical essay Ethnicity and Equality: France in the Balance, available in a Bison Books edition.

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