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Seven Houses in France

A Novel
Bernardo Atxaga, Translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa

The year is 1903, and the garrison of Yangambi on the banks of the 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 womanizer, 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 Liege. 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.

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A brooding novel of colonial intrigue in the Congo, from the author of The Accordionist’s Son and Obabakoak

About the Author

Bernardo  Atxaga
Credit: Javier Martin
Bernardo Atxaga is a prizewinning author whose books, including Seven Houses in France and The Accordionist’s Son, have won international critical acclaim. His works have been translated into thirty-two languages. He lives in the Basque Country.
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Margaret Jull Costa is the award-winning translator of José Saramago, Javier Marías, Bernardo Atxaga, Eça de Queiroz, and Fernando Pessoa. She is the translator of The Accordionist’s Son, Nevada Days, Obabakoak, and Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga.
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  • “Atxaga possesses an uncanny gift for details bordering on the forensic, and he breathes life into this bevy of invariably perfectly pitched characters. . . . Nearly impossible to put down, Atxaga’s thrilling colonial masterpiece pulses with a kind of elemental power, like the Congo River itself.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • "When it comes to tales of corruption in the Belgian Congo, it's hard to compete with the canonical squalor of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. But Seven Houses in France manages to infuse a colorful layer of vulgarity and humor into a familiar portrait of abuse."—The Daily Beast
  • "[A] sly narrative. . . . [Atxaga] threads wry humor throughout [Seven Houses in France]."—Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
  • “Like Heart of Darkness, with which similarities abound, [Seven Houses in France] is both tragic and traumatic.”—Kirkus Reviews
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