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January 15 , 2010

Street of Thieves


Recipient of three French literary awards, Mathias Énard's follow-up to the critically acclaimed Zone is a timely novel about a young Moroccan boy caught up in the turbulent events of the Middle East, and a possible murder.

Exiled from his family for religious transgressions related to his feelings for his cousin, Lekhdar finds himself on the streets of Barcelona hiding from both the police and the Muslim Group for the Propagation of Koranic Thoughts, a group he worked for in Tangier not long after being thrown out on the streets by his father.

Lekhdar's transformations—from a boy into a man, from a devout Muslim into a sinner—take place against the backdrop of some of the most important events of the past few years: the violence and exciting eruption of the Arab Spring and the devastating collapse of Europe's economy.

If all that isn't enough, Lekhdar reunites with a childhood friend—one who is planning an assassination, a murder Lekhdar opposes.

A finalist for the prestigious Prix Goncourt, Street of Thieves solidifies Énard's place as one of France's most ambitious and keyed-in novelists of this century. This novel may even take Zone's place in Christophe Claro's bold pronouncement that Énard's earlier work is "the novel of the decade, if not of the century."

Mathias Énard studied Persian and Arabic and spent long periods in the Middle East. A professor of Arabic at the University of Barcelona, he received several awards for Zone—also available from Open Letter—including the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Décembre.

Charlotte Mandell has translated works from a number of important French authors, including Marcel Proust, Gustave Flaubert, Jean Genet, Guy de Maupassant, and Maurice Blanchot, among others.

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