Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

by Faïza Guène

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN-13/ EAN: 9780156030489
  • ISBN-10: 0156030489
  • Pages: 192
  • Publication Date: 07/03/2006
  • Carton Quantity: 64

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About the Book
About the Author
  • About the Book

    He thought I'd forged my mom's name on the slip. How stupid is that? On this thing Mom just made a kind of squiggly shape on the page. That jerk didn't even think about what he was saying, didn't even ask himself why her signature might be weird. He's one of those people who think illiteracy is like AIDS. It only exists in Africa.
    --from Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

     "A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that alien country called adolescence. A funny, heartfelt story from a wise guy who happens to be a girl. If you've ever fallen in love, if you've ever had your heart broken, this story is your story." -- Sandra Cisneros, author of THE HOUSE ON MANGO STREET 

    The Paradise projects are only a few metro stops from Paris, but here it's a whole different kind of France. Doria's father, the Beard, has headed back to their hometown in Morocco, leaving her and her mom to cope with their mektoub—their destiny—alone. They have a little help-- from a social worker sent by the city, a psychiatrist sent by the school, and a thug friend who recites Rimbaud.

    It seems like fate’s dealt them an impossible hand, but Doria might still make a new life. She'll prove the projects aren't only about rap, soccer, and religious tension. She’ll take the Arabic word kif-kif (same old, same old) and mix it up with the French verb kiffer (to really like something). Now she has a whole new motto: KIFFE KIFFE TOMORROW.

    "Moving and irreverent, sad and funny, full of rage and intelligence. [Guène's] characters are unforgettable, her voice fresh, and her book a delight." -- Laila Lalami, author of Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

    Faïza Guène, the child of Algerian immigrants, grew up in the public housing projects of Pantin, outside Paris. This is her first book.


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  • About the Author
  • Excerpts

    It’s Monday and, like every Monday, I went over to Madame Burlaud’s. Mme Burlaud is old, she’s ugly, and she stinks like RID antilice shampoo. She’s harmless, but sometimes she worries me. Today she took a whole bunch of weird pictures out of her bottom drawer. They were these huge blobs that looked like dried vomit. She asked me what they made me think about. When I told her she stared at me with her eyes all bugged out, shaking her head like those little toy dogs in the backs of cars.

    It was school that sent me up to see her. The teachers, in between strikes for once, figured I’d better see somebody because I seemed shut down or closed off or something . . . Maybe they’re right. I don’t give a shit. I go. It’s covered by welfare.

    I guess I’ve been like this since my dad left. He went a way long way away, back to Morocco to marry another woman, who must be younger and more fertile than my mom. After me, Mom couldn’t have any more children. But it wasn’t like she didn’t try. She tried for a really long time. When I think of all the girls who get pregnant their first time, not even on purpose . . . Dad, he wanted a son. For his pride, his reputation, the family honor, and I’m sure lots of other stupid reasons. But he only got one kid and it was a girl. Me. You could say I didn’t exactly meet customer specifications. Trouble is, it’s not like at the supermarket: There’s no customer-satisfaction guarantee. So one day the Beard must have realized there was no point trying anymore with my mom and he took off. Just like that, no warning. All I remember is that I was watching an episode from the fourth season of The X-Files that I’d rented from the video store on the corner. The door banged shut. From the window, I saw a gray taxi pulling away. That’s all. It’s been over six months. That peasant woman he married is probably pregnant by now. And I know exactly how it will all go down: Seven days after the birth they’ll hold the baptism ceremony and invite the whole village. A band of old sheiks carting their camel-hide drums will come over just for the big event. It’s going to cost him a real fortune— all his pension from the Renault factory. And then they’ll slit the throat of a giant sheep to give the baby its first name. It’ll be Mohammed. Ten to one.

    When Mme Burlaud asks me if I miss my dad, I say “no,” but she doesn’t believe me. She’s pretty smart like that, for a chick. Whatever, it’s no big deal, my mom’s here. Well, she’s here physically. Because in her head, she’s somewhere else. Somewhere even farther away than my father.

    © Hachette Littératures 2004
    English translation © Sarah Adams 2006

    All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.

    Requests for permission to make copies of any part of the work should be submitted online at or mailed to the following address: Permissions Department, Harcourt, Inc., 6277 Sea Harbor Drive, Orlando, Florida 32887-6777.

  • Reviews


    "A light-hearted bonbon of a book. Not since director Mathieu Kassovitz's 1995 hit film Hate has there been such a compelling portrait of the Parisian suburbs. Doria [is] a volatile mix of adolescent insecurity, misguided bravado and tenderness."
    -Newsweek International

    "[Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow] challenges the conventional wisdom that the suburbs are only dangerous, crime-infested wastelands where hatred runs deep and hope is nonexistent."
    -The New York Times

    "Rendered with tough defiance. [A] brash and bracing read." - Seattle Times

    "This highly original story, told in an equally original voice, will be popular for as long as people read it." - curled up with a good book

    "A feisty, invigorating debut. [F]unny, infuriating, and hopeful about young womanhood and cultural welter. A-" -- Entertainment Weekly

    "Think of Doria on the same adolescent raft as Huck Finn and Holden Caulfield. A cunning wonder." - Harper's

    "[K]udos for this sassy, spunky tale [with] the unforgettable voice. Doria has what it takes to storm any barricade." - Hartford-Courant

    "Smart, upbeat. An empowering new voice transforms kif-kif-- same old, same old-- into kiffer, something to be crazy about." - Kirkus, starred review

    "Moving and irreverent, sad and funny, full of rage and intelligence. Her voice is fresh, and her book a delight." - Laila Lalami

    "[Doria is] as likable as Holden Caulfield or Prep’s Lee Fiora. Readers will cheer. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal, starred review

    "[C]ompelling, revealing Guene to be a promising addition to the world's literary voices." - Miami Herald

    "[I]nspired. [A] sharply drawn tale of a precocious adolescent. [T]he reader can't help cheering." - New York Times Book Review

    "Guene keeps her narrative plunging onward, one amusing observation from Doria at a time. [A] promising debut." - Philadelphia Inquirer

    "Exuberant, sophisticated teen talk. This small novel reads like a quiet celebration within a chaotic ghetto." - Publishers Weekly

    "Remarkable. A Gallic version of 'White Teeth,' 'The Catcher in the Rye' and 'Bridget Jones's Diary.'"
    - Salon

    "[C]ompelling... reveals Guene to be a promising addition to the world's literary voices." - San Francisco Chronicle

    "A tale for anyone who has ever lived outside looking in, especially from that alien country called adolescence." - Sandra Cisneros

    "With bravado, humor, and a healthy dose of rage." - St. Petersburg Times

    "Guene has a bright future ahead of her." - TimeOut Chicago