An Unfinished Business, By Boualem Sansal

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The Independent Culture

Boualem Sansal's eye-opening novel runs headlong into one of the Arab's world's deepest taboos: denial of or excuses for the Holocaust, and their persistence today.

Two Algerian-born brothers from the tough Paris banlieue, Rachel and Malrich, have a German father and a cloudy family past. A village massacre in Algeria launches Rachel on a frantic quest to find the truth, recorded in his diary; calmer Malrich charts his brother's travels across Europe and their tragic outcome.

Urgent, rough-hewn, sometimes more passionate than artful, the novel (translated with street-smart swagger by Frank Wynne) outlines the resemblance between old Nazi and new Islamist hatred – "kif-kif, same old same old" - with admirable vigour and courage.

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