An extraordinary tour de force – the strange, perversely poetic novel by the Algerian writer Amin Zaoui, is a frank sexual rites of passage where sexual discovery, death and wisdom shadow the Algerian war of Independence and the tribulations of Algeria in the 1960s
Banquet of Lies is the story of Koussaila known as Nems (the weasel), and the awakening of his unbridled passion for older women. In spite of the fact that his family is Sharif, direct descended from the prophet Muhammad, Koussaila cannot resist seeking forbidden pleasure in the arms of inappropriate women; his aunt, a cleaning lady, a Jewish neighbour and even a Catholic nun. After his first sexual experience, on the same day as Algeria’s 1965 coup d’état, Koussaila continues on a chaotic path of desire, self-disgust, literature and sex, trying to reconcile the world of Islam (in the pages of the Koran) with that of the Roumis (in the pages of Les Fleurs du Mal and Madame Bovary).
Praise for Banquet of Lies
‘Amin Zaoui treats the theme of obsession with older women in a subtle and unsettling manner…A succession of short scenes interspersed with terse observations, it achieves internal coherence thanks in no small part to the symbolic interplay of character and context…Frank Wynne has produced a fluent English translation.’
Times Literary Supplement
It makes for a lot of overwrought writing, but for long stretches it’s surprisingly engaging…an odd — and sexually excessive (and bizarre) — testament of the times, but there’s something to it. Admirably, the English edition is, in fact, a bilingual one. Frank Wynne’s translation reads well, but with language like this there’s a lot to be said for having the original side by side with the translated text.
‘It s a stream-of-consciousness/semi autobiographical/confessional tale -shades of Henry Miller with some Gustave Flaubert thrown in for good measure. A sensational and shocking read in the true sense of the word.’
Jay Benedict, Vulpes Libris