Bar Balto, By Faiza Guene (trs Sarah Ardizzone)

Murderous monologues from the citizens of Making-Ends-Meet

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The Independent Culture

Joel Morvier is a racist, lecherous, thieving bar-owner in the deprived banlieu of Making-Ends-Meet, who is found naked and dead in a pool of blood from multiple stab wounds.

This novella is a series of monologues from disaffected denizens of Making-Ends-Meet, all of whom had reason to murder Morvier: an Armenian teenage tearaway, a pair of Muslim twins who never stop bickering, a Paris Hilton wannabe, an unemployed slob addicted to scratch cards, an autistic adolescent etc. It's a slice of life and an unusual whodunnit, but Sarah Ardizzone's translation, self-consciously stuffed with ill-assorted idioms, feels clunky.