Longlisted for the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize 2012. A dark tale of human ambition by the European master A.S. Byatt has termed 'A brilliantly inventive writer'
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Published: 03 November 2011
Genre: General & literary fiction
The year is 1903, and the garrison of Yangambi on the banks of the River Congo is under the command of Captain Lalande Biran. The captain is also a poet whose ambition is to amass a fortune and return to the literary cafés of Paris. His glamorous wife Christine has a further ambition: to own seven houses in France, a house for every year he has been abroad.At Lalande Biran's side are the ex-legionnaire van Thiegel, a brutal womaniser, and the servile, treacherous Donatien, who dreams of running a brothel. The officers spend their days guarding enslaved rubber-tappers and kidnapping young girls, and at their hands the jungle is transformed into a wild circus of human ambition and absurdity. But everything changes with the arrival of a new officer and brilliant marksman: the enigmatic Chrysostome Liège.An outstanding new novel from the critically acclaimed and prizewinning author Bernardo Atxaga, Seven Houses in France is a blackly comic tale which reveals the darkest sides of human desire.
A dark comedy about the vanity of human desires which deftly balances compassion and cynicism
Bizarrely funny and beautifully crafted
Times Literary Supplement
A brilliantly inventive writer...He understands the nature of storytelling and is at once terribly moving and wildly funny
A. S. Byatt,
Seven Houses in France is an enjoyable, somewhat frightening novel by one of Europe's best novelists... Atxaga is still the master of a complex story, told with deceptive simplicity
Michael Eaude, Independent
Atxaga’s grim and complicated story is lucidly told
Emma Hagestadt, Independent
Atxaga’s story is fresh and his treatment of violence psychologically rich
It takes a special kind of genius to transform this most unpromising of locations into a vehicle for black comedy, but that is precisely what the Basque author Bernardo Atxaga achieves in this mesmerizing novel
Simon Shaw, Mail on Sunday
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Bernardo Atxaga was born in Gipuzkoa in Spain in 1951 and lives in the Basque Country, writing in Basque and Spanish. He is a prizewinning novelist and poet, whose books, including Obabakoak and The Accordionist's ...