This article is also available in: Italiano
Kaouther Adimi’s “Nos richesses” will take you back in time by making you relive the magic of the “Les Vraies Richesses” bookshop and its publisher, Edmond Charlot, friend and discoverer of Camus. All set in an Algiers quivering for independence from France.
Algiers, today. Ryad, a lazy 20-year-old university student in Paris, has a thankless task ahead of him: emptying and closing the Les Vraies Richesses bookstore. This dusty four by seven meter shop, crammed with yellowed volumes, faded photos, paintings and a thousand other editorial relics, hides the story of an exceptional human and literary adventure, guarded by its last witness, the mysterious Abdallah.
Algiers, 1936. Edmond Charlot, an enthusiastic 20-year-old, returns to his homeland after a trip to Paris with a great idea in mind: to found a bookshop-publishing house that publishes writers from both sides of the Mediterranean, regardless of language, nationality or religion. Supported by a community of talents and affections, a hybrid and welcoming place opens at 2 bis of rue Charras that soon becomes the seat of the legendary Éditions Charlot, frequented by aspiring writers as well as by figures of the caliber of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and André Gide. From that passionate little room, entitled to the “true riches” of life, come the first editions of memorable texts, including the debut of a young genius: Albert Camus.
A story from Algiers
Kaouther Adimi’s “Nos richesses” is confirmed as one of the revelations of 2018 thanks to the skill of a writer with a guaranteed future. The novel is divided into 3 parts that constantly rotate in the novel: Ryad’s point of view, that of Edmond Charlot and that of the writer herself. In fact, it will be she who will introduce contemporary times and events to Charlot, stories of a city and a people waiting for a liberation that will become the absolute emblem for decolonization.
Kaouther Adimi, however, is not satisfied with a simple historical novel but takes the opportunity to remind us of those who have made French and Algerian literature great. From Yacine Kateb to Mohammed Dib, passing through Camus, Gertrude Stein and Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “Nos richesses” is not only a good book but an opportunity to fully immerse ourselves in the literature of these 2 countries. A book that uses his every word to give us something more and teach us something new, both about France and Algeria, and even more about the man capable of uniting these 2 worlds: Edmond Charlot, legendary founder of the Rue Charras Bookshop .
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