Viking has pre-empted French bestseller All Men Want to Know by Nina Bouraoui and it will be the first time that the author has been published in the UK.
Isabel Wall, editor at Viking, pre-empted world English rights to the title from Elsa Misson at J C Lattès. The book spent 10 weeks on the bestseller list in France.
Billed by the publisher as “a haunting, lyrical French bestseller” set in Paris and Algiers, it is described by the author as a "deeply personal novel" it draws on strong parallels of her life living alone in Paris as a teenager. It will be translated into English by the award-winning translator Aneesa Abbas Higgins and published in August 2020.
"In All Men Want to Know the author traces her blissful childhood in Algeria, recalling long trips across the desert with her mother and sister and hazy summer afternoons spent on the beach with her friend Ali," the publisher said. "But Nina's mother is French—moving to Algeria for love at a time when most Europeans were desperate to leave—and as civil war approaches, their sunny idyll gives way to increasingly hostile and violent outbreaks. When something unspeakable happens to her mother, the family flee to Paris."
The synopsis reads: "In Paris, Nina lives alone. She is 18 years old. It's the 1980s. Four nights a week she walks across the city to a legendary women-only nightclub, the Katmandou. She sits alone at the bar, afraid of her own desires, of her sudden and intoxicating freedom. There she meets the glamorous, deeply troubled Ely, her volatile friends Lizz and Laurence, and the beautiful Julia, with whom she falls desperately in love. And, most importantly, she starts to write."
Bouraoui was born in 1967 to a French mother and an Algerian father. She lived in Algiers until the age of 14 before moving to France and becoming a writer. She is regarded by many as one of France's most prestiigious living novelists, and has won several literary prizes including the Prix Emmanuel Robles, the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Renaudot. She was awarded the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. Her work has been translated into over 15 languages but has never before been published in the UK.
Wall said: "Nina Bouraoui’s writing is a revelation. All Men Want to Know is a hypnotic, poetic and profound exploration of sexuality and desire, shame and violence, of what it means to exist between two opposing cultures. I’m proud to be bringing Nina’s brilliance to the English-speaking world."
"Writing this novel taught me that we are all determined by our history," Bouraoui said. "That it is impossible to break free of the past. I am very moved that this deeply personal novel will be published by Viking."