Street of Thieves

Mathias Enard

Translated by Charlotte Mandell

Published 31 August 2015, French paperback with flaps, 296 pages

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In Tangier, young Lakhdar finds himself homeless after being caught in flagrante with his cousin Meryem. As the political and religious tensions in the Mediterranean flare up with the Arab Spring and the global financial crisis, Lakhdar and his friend Bassam entertain dreams of emigration, fuelled by a desire for freedom and a better life. Part political thriller, part road-movie, part romance, the latest novel by Mathias Enard takes us from the violence of Tangier’s streets to Barcelona’s louche Raval quarter. Street of Thieves is an intense coming-of-age story that delves deep into the brutal realities of the immigrant experience.

Read an excerpt in Granta, here. 

‘[Street of Thieves] confirms Enard as the most brazenly lapel-grabbing French writer since Michel Houellebecq.’
— Leo Robson, New Statesman

‘This is what the great contemporary French novel should be. Enard looks at the world as it is: poisoned by religion, poisoned by politics, choking on materialism and dying of globalization. His prose bites, and his characters retain our sympathy however extreme their actions. Enard fuses the traditions of Céline and Camus, but he is his own man.’
— Patrick McGuinness, author of The Last Hundred Days

‘Though his journeys are limited to Morocco, Tunisia and Spain, [Lakhdar’s journeys] provide a glimpse into the tremors of the Arab spring, the threat of Islamic fundamentalism, and the indignados movement in Spain…. Enard is an ambitious writer and his prose, in Charlotte Mandell’s translation, has moments of devastating clarity.’
Laila Lailami, Guardian

‘A remarkable and important novel. I can’t think of any better contemporary writers than Enard.’
Thom Cuell, Bookmunch

Street of Thieves is a feat of the imagination propelled by deep cultural familiarity and experience, an extraordinary animation of another person … I’ll read everything Enard writes from now on.’
Lee Klein, 3:AM Magazine

Street of Thieves represents the kind of fiction one hopes will emerge, from Enard or others, after the tumult once known as the Arab Spring has receded a little further into the past.’
— Robert F. Worth, New York Times

‘Set against a backdrop of rising Islamic extremism, the Arab Spring, and the Occupy movement, Enard’s latest novel is a howling elegy for thwarted youth.’
— Publishers Weekly

Praise for Zone

‘Enard’s novel is to be seen within a tradition of French avant-garde writing … The result is a modern masterpiece.’
— David Collard, Times Literary Supplement

‘The brilliance of Zone lies in its brutal refusal to stop. Again and again, Mathias Enard’s white-knuckle narrative plunges us back into the battle-scarred past, forcing us to confront its horrors … a relentlessly inventive novel.’
— David Winters, Literary Review

‘[T]he material of a conventional thriller has been sublimated into an atmosphere of violence, power and cruelty; humanity here is little more than a vector through which various kinds of insanity flow.’
— Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

Mathias Enard, born in 1972, studied Persian and Arabic and spent long periods in the Middle East. He won several awards for Zone, including the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Décembre, and won the Liste Goncourt/Le Choix de l’Orient, the Prix littéraire de la Porte Dorée and the Prix du Roman-News for Street of Thieves. He won the 2015 Prix Goncourt, the 2017 Leipziger Book Award for European Understanding, the Premio Gregor von Rezzori and was shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize for CompassThe Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers’ Guild is his fifth novel to appear with Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Charlotte Mandell has translated fiction, poetry, and philosophy from the French, including works by Proust, Flaubert, Genet, Maupassant, Blanchot, and many other distinguished authors. She has received many accolades and awards for her translations, including a Literature Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for Zone, also by Mathias Enard.