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01Aug

Men Don’t Cry by Faïza Guène review – witty novel of everyday French life

The former teenage sensation returns with an acutely observed cast of comic characters

The young French author Faïza Guène is a literary sensation, having published her first bestseller, the contemporary novel Kiffe kiffe demain (published as Just Like Tomorrow in the UK), when she was just 19. That novel’s translator, Sarah Ardizzone, is back on board for Men Don’t Cry, a brilliantly funny, insightful and affectionate novel about life in 21st-century France.

Out go the Emily in Paris cliches of berets and baguettes and in comes a cast of characters who are multilingual, multicultural black and brown French citizens who view their country, and their diasporic histories, with a winning combination of affection, exasperation and pride. The novel is narrated by Mourad, who describes his theatrical mother, gruff but loving father and sisters Mina and Dounia with warmth and wit. At a teacher training seminar, Mourad hears that “being a teacher is a form of bereavement. It means saying goodbye to your passion for literature and mourning the loss of everything you’ve learned at university.”

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