Dreams from the Endz

Being Algerian in Paris is harder than being a Scandinavian in Britain, but there are interesting similarities between Faïza Guène’s new heroine Ahlème, and the witch. The immigration office that Ahlème has to register at regularly, sounds rather like Lunar House in Croydon, and my experience of calling there isn’t much fun. It’s for second class people.

Dreams from the Endz

This new book by Faïza Guène, translated by Sarah Ardizzone, is as good as her first, Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow. Dreams from the Endz isn’t as much of a teen book, though, and the publishers say they are only aiming it at adults, which is a shame. It’d be good if more teenagers could read it, and learn what it’s like to be an unwanted immigrant.

Ahlème is both a typical 24-year-old modern girl, and a good Algerian daughter and sister, keeping her invalid father happy, and trying to keep her teenage brother out of trouble. She struggles to find a job to feed them, and she meets up with her friends and helps her neighbours, and she falls in love. And even love has to depend on the immigration authorities.

Faïza is good at getting her message across, about what it’s like to be an immigrant in France. We need more books like this one, and it’s good to get a story from across the Channel. Very near, but very different.

I nearly fainted when I saw the price of Dreams from the Endz. £11.99 for a paperback of 170 pages! I understand it will sell fewer copies, because it’s foreign, not so well known, and translations may cost more. But who in their right minds will pick this book in the shop, when the average paperback costs a fiver less? The risk here must be that the book flops, and that’s seen as proof that books like these don’t sell, so why publish any more.

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4 responses to “Dreams from the Endz

  1. It seems like a very interesting book… I’ll look for it!

    It is true that today books aren’t cheap… but, personally I don’t mind because good books are priceless and I love to read them more than once. I do hope they will never stop publishing books that “don’t sell” only because they don’t target the “mass”. I do believe there will always be readers for those books!…

  2. Hopefully Faïza’s books sell enough in France, so that she can live off the money, and write more books. Starving writers may eventually not write so much.

    The thing about this book is that it says it’s been published with help from English PEN and the French Government. And I hate to think how much the book would cost without this help.

  3. Here in Canada, it is common practice for the Governments (Federal and Provincials) to help writers, movie makers, artists, musicians financially through the Conseil des Arts… For the books, I don’t think it lowers the cost… it’s only a good way to encourage writers and artists to pursue in their career without having to struggle too much. That same organism helps to promote these people’s products outside the country… and actually, it works fine!

    I don’t know how it works in Europe though… it might be different from here!

  4. You can’t say Europe; you’d need to look at each individual country.

    In Britain I think it’s sink or swim depending on your sales. Many people I admire have a day job in order to feed themselves and their families. And the most talented ones scare me when they say they may put the writing on a back burner until the children grow up.

    In Sweden I believe they have something like you describe. Some kind of “art” salary, so that people can do what they do so well. I used to wonder how such a small country could support so many full time authors, even with the prices of Swedish books.

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