The Influence Peddlers Hédi Kaddour, Teresa Lavender Fagan

The Margellos World Republic of Letters
Publication date:
24 Oct 2017
Yale University Press
344 pages: 229 x 152mm
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The eagerly awaited English translation of Kaddour’s award-winning novel of clashing cultures during the French colonial years

Gather together French colonialists, young nationalists eager for independence, and local Maghreb leaders in a small North African city of the 1920s. Bring a collection of brash American filmmakers and celebrities into the picture. Dangerous cultural collisions are the inevitable result in Hédi Kaddour’s best-selling novel of French colonial rule and its persisting legacy of human chaos and cultural tragedy.
In this commanding novel, the author plumbs the contradictions of colonialism and the impact on individual lives. With insight, humor, and a profound sense of irony he introduces Les Prépondérants—“The Preponderants,” an unofficial group of peddlers of influence who operate at every level of colonial society. American “Hollywood” values, Islamic and secular politics, French manners—none of them escapes Kaddour’s skewering wit. Filled with rich irony and wonderful characters, this is a novel that grapples forcefully with colonial relations in the Arabic, North African, and French worlds, while also journeying into the simmering Europe and United States of the Roaring Twenties.

After years of teaching French literature and translation at New York University in France, poet and novelist Hédi Kaddour now teaches creative writing at the famous “Gallimard literary workshop” in Paris. Teresa Lavender Fagan is the translator of Hédi Kaddour’s Little Grey Lies.

"Nahbes . . . a remote place in North Africa . . . a remote time also! A revelation of the life of the uptight French colonialists, the aspiring Arabs for freedom and easygoing Americans from Hollywood. Pleasant and entertaining!"—Sonallah Ibrahim, author of Beirut, Beirut

“Hédi Kaddour picked an interesting and significant moment for his novel, Tunisia in the 1920s. The novel takes us to an exposure of the different cultures through the French colonialists, the Arab natives, and some American actors who happen to work in Tunisia. Kaddour has a special talent for creating living, vivid, and unforgettable characters who will remain with the reader forever. This is a beautiful, well-written, and enjoyable novel.”—Alaa Al Aswany, author of TheYacoubian Building