Kaouther Adimi's Our Riches (translated from the French by Chris Andrews) is the story of Edmond Charlot, Algerian publisher and bookshop owner (credited with discovering a young Albert Camus). Based on historical fact, Adimi's charming novel spans some 80 years and is a tale of struggle, politics, community, culture, independence, and, maybe above all, the love, promise, and enduring nature of all things bookish. Thoughtful and beautifully written (and even occasionally funny!), Adimi's novel evokes the lasting spirit of other bibliocentric novels like Bohumil Hrabal's Too Loud a Solitude and Helene Hanff's 84, Charing Cross Road. Recommended By Jeremy G., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
Our Riches celebrates quixotic devotion and the love of books in the person of Edmond Charlot, who at the age of twenty founded Les Vraies Richesses (Our True Wealth), the famous Algerian bookstore/publishing house/lending library. He more than fulfilled its motto "by the young, for the young," discovering the twenty-four-year-old Albert Camus in 1937. His entire archive was twice destroyed by the French colonial forces, but despite financial difficulties (he was hopelessly generous) and the vicissitudes of wars and revolutions, Charlot (often compared to the legendary bookseller Sylvia Beach) carried forward Les Vraies Richesses as a cultural hub of Algiers.
Our Riches interweaves Charlot's story with that of another twenty-year-old, Ryad (dispatched in 2017 to empty the old shop and repaint it). Ryad's no booklover, but old Abdallah, the bookshop's self-appointed, nearly illiterate guardian, opens the young man's mind. Cutting brilliantly from Charlot to Ryad, from the 1930s to current times, from WWII to the bloody 1961 Free Algeria demonstrations in Paris, Adimi delicately packs a monumental history of intense political drama into her swift and poignant novel. But most of all, it's a hymn to the book and to the love of books.
"An understated, lyrical story of reading and resistance over the tumultuous generations." Kirkus Reviews
"Adimi's confident prose displays...emotional depth while nimbly shuttling the reader through nearly a century of history." Publishers Weekly
"Both gorgeous paean to literature and historically astute observation; highly recommended for book lovers everywhere." Library Journal
About the Author
Born in 1986 in Algiers, Kaouther Adimi lives in Paris. Our Riches, her third novel, was shortlisted for the Goncourt and won the Prix Renaudot, the Prix du Style, the Prix Beur FM Méditerranée, and the Choix Goncourt de l'Italie.
The poet Chris Andrews teaches at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, where he is a member of the Writing and Society Research Centre. He has translated books by Roberto Bolaño and César Aira for New Directions. He has won the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize for his poetry and the Valle-Inclan Prize for his translations.
Jeremy Garber on PowellsBooks.Blog
This year, perhaps especially, it is easy to see just how small and interconnected our world really is. 2020, despite its myriad challenges, dramas, heartaches, tragedies, and hard-won battles, has proven to be one when historically marginalized voices received the wider attention, amplification, and critical ear they have always deserved...