Those sceptical when grandiose comparisons are accorded to a new novelist (Louatah has been likened to Knausgård, Philip Roth and Zadie Smith) may be wary of Savages — and might also be reluctant to commit to the first part of a series (here, the Saint Etienne Quartet). Just a few pages, however, demonstrate the author’s panoramic range of ambition. At the presidential elections in France, an assassination attempt on the first Arab candidate is traced to Nazir, scion of the influential Nerrouche family; he has links to Islamist extremists. The family are horrified to discover that one of their own may be a murderer. One man may be able to clear the family name, the favourite son Fouad — but is the assassination attempt part of a more overarching conspiracy? Louatah’s complex saga functions both as cutting-edge sociopolitical drama and as an excoriating picture of modern France, though the fragmentary structure will certainly not be to every taste.
Savages: The Wedding by Sabri Louatah (trans. Gavin Bowd) Corsair, £12.99, 246 pages