Didier Van Cauwelaert One-Way

ISBN 13: 9781590510865

One-Way

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Winner of the Prix Goncourt and chosen by The Seattle Times as one of the Best Books of 2004

"One-Way is a funny and tender look at a world of shifting boundaries...Aziz Kemal is a protagonist for these times."
-Sam Lipsyte, author of Home Land

"Outrageously funny."
-The Seattle Times

"Mr. van Cauwelaert has a fine, light touch and makes Aziz the most charming and gentle of liars."
-The New York Sun

"A mad tale, funny and cruel, tender and inventive, in which all the hypocrisy of our society is put forward without ever becoming heavy-handed."
-Les Echos

Hailed as a marvel and awarded France's most prestigious literary prize, One-Way recounts the comic, absurd, and all-too-believable adventures of Aziz Kemal, a young Frenchman raised as an Arab by Marseilles gypsies. Arrested for a crime he didn't commit, Aziz becomes the target of a government campaign to repatriate illegal immigrants and finds himself en route to Morocco, despite the fact that he isn't Moroccan. Accompanying Aziz is a touchingly naive and neurotic "humanitarian attache" named Jean-Pierre Schneider, who drowns his own personal woes in his zeal to build a new life for his charge in a land neither one has ever seen.

It is on the plane to Morocco that events take an unexpected turn, when Aziz, pressed for details of a "birthplace" that isn't his, invents the fabulous story of Irghiz, a valley paradise hidden from the world and now in danger of ruin. From this moment on, the attache forgets his original assignment and has only one mission: to return Aziz to the Eldorado he left behind and save it from the ravages of modern progress. So begins an initiatory journey that takes Aziz, Jean-Pierre, and a disabused aristocrat across a desert both real and mythic, pursuing a vision of happiness as elusive as Irghiz itself.

At once humorous and poignant, the story of this journey is "a beautifully realized blend of sensitivity, humor, intelligence, and good sense—a rich and engaging novel, filled with a lucid and compassionate humanity" (Jean-Claude Lebrun).

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About the Author:

Didier van Cauwelaert

Didier van Cauwelaert is the author of numerous bestselling books, including Poisson d'Amour, La Vie Interdite, and Rencontre Sous X (forthcoming in English from Other Press). He wrote a libretto that was featured in the recent off-Broadway musical, Amour. He lives in Paris.

From Publishers Weekly:

Van Cauwelaert's tale of an orphan's quest for cultural identity won the Prix Goncourt when it was published in 1994, the year after France passed laws restricting immigration and the rights of current immigrants. Aziz Kemal is an immigrant himself, at least according to the false Moroccan papers he carries. In fact, he is French and an "accidental foundling." Raised, reluctantly, by the Gypsies who rescued him from the car crash that killed his parents, Aziz narrates his story with the breezy, elegant detachment of a double outsider in Marseilles. At times, the book feels more like a dramatic monologue than a novel, as Aziz steals car radios for a living, plays soccer and enjoys trysts with someone else's girl. But it also challenges ethnic and national identity in France: what is identity, the novel asks, other than a story we tell? When the immigration laws take effect, Aziz is deported to his supposed homeland of Morocco, a place he's only read about. Paired with Jean-Pierre Schneider, an immigration official assigned to accompany him, Aziz spins tales of an imaginary Moroccan past for Jean Pierre's files. Jean-Pierre is Aziz's perfect foil: he remembers all too well his own hard youth. In Morocco, the novel blooms deliciously into a buddy flick, a road trip, a love triangle and a metafictional comment on the reliability of narrators. When Aziz's narration is interrupted by an excerpt from Jean-Pierre's journal, the book is at its heartbreaking, hilarious best, perhaps because Van Cauwelaert is freed from his uneducated hero and allowed full use of high-minded absurdity, which he both revels in and pokes fun at.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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