Books

"I wanted to explain what it's like to feel like a foreigner in a big city."

Kaouther Adimi's novel reflects on family pressure, intercultural shock and the need to manage our own emotions in order to achieve the vital stability necessary in every situation.

Yolanda Cagigas-March 15, 2021-Reading time: 2 minutes
stones in the pocket

Photo credit: Rebecca Campbell/ Unsplash

I like novels that make me think; this novel took me longer to think about than to read. Although it is a commonplace to say that with each book you live a different life, it has really been true with this one, once again.

The book

Title: Stones in your pocket
AuthorKaouther Adimi
Editorial: LIbros del Asteroide
Year: 2021
Pages: 176

A good summary of the plot is provided by the publisher - Asteroide - on the back cover. A young woman leaves her home in Algeria and settles in Paris. "Five years later she is caught between two worlds: day to day life in the cold capital is much harder than she thought, and although she feels nostalgic for her former life, her mother's continuous phone calls reminding her that her main objective should be to find a husband convince her that going back is not an alternative. When she learns that she has to travel to Algiers to attend her younger sister's wedding, she cannot help but feel a certain sense of failure."

According to the author, Kaouther Adimi, this book is partly autobiographical. About her mother's constant reminder to her, she herself has stated: "We don't talk about two people falling in love and being happy. My mother once told me that he did not want my siblings and me to be happy, it was enough for him that we were normal.". Adimi is not against marriage or men; in fact, she is getting married, but later; what she does not want is to have to get married because of what people will say. The author claims something as obvious as a marriage based on trust.

What does the title "Piedras en el bolsillo" mean? The weight of family pressure to get married. We all have our own history, we carry our own stones, our own emotional backpack that we must know, accept and learn to manage in a healthy way.

"I wanted to explain what it really means to feel like a foreigner in a big city," says the author, who has been in Paris since 2009, in an interview recently published in VogueShe continues: "If I, who am privileged, consider myself permanently attacked as a Muslim and Algerian, attacked in my country, how will the rest feel? It is very significant that the protagonist, a professionally well-placed woman, only has confidences with a tramp; the reason: she is the only one who is not prejudiced.

"I kept remembering the house I grew up in, with the continuous terrorist attacks... and I wanted to write something about it." In 1998, historian Concepción Ybarra published an article with a significant title. "Those French muds bring these Algerian muds.". Once again, to understand the present - not to justify it - one must know history.

It should also be kept in mind that the original of this book was published in Paris in 2016. A year earlier the capital had suffered an unprecedented terrorist massacre. Daesh, in claiming authorship, explained that the causes had been French participation in the war against the Islamic State and daring to insult the prophet, in reference to the attack on Charlie Hebdo.

The authorYolanda Cagigas

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