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Tropic of Violence

A Novel
Nathacha Appanah; Translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan
Marie, a nurse in Mayotte, a far-flung, tropical department of France in the Indian Ocean, adopts a baby abandoned at birth by his mother, a refugee from Comoros. She names him Moïse and raises him as her own—and she avoids his increasing questions about his origins as he grows up. When Marie suddenly dies, thirteen-year-old Moïse is left completely alone, plunged into uncertainty and turmoil. In a state of panic, he runs away from home, and sets himself on a collision course with the gangs of Gaza, the largest and most infamous slum on the island.
Nathacha Appanah has deftly assembled a small chorus of voices who narrate the heartbreak, violence, and injustice of life in Mayotte. To Marie’s and Moïse’s perspectives she adds those of Bruce, a terrifying gang leader; Olivier, a police officer fighting a losing battle; and Stéphane, the naive aid worker whose efforts to help Moïse only make him more vulnerable.
Tropic of Violence shines a powerful light on the particular deprivation and isolation in this forgotten and neglected part of France. At the same time, it is a moving portrayal of the desperation and inequality that are driving refugee crises across the world, and of the innocent children whose lives are being torn apart in their wake. This is a remarkable, unsettling new novel from one of the most exciting voices in world literature.

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A potent novel about lost youth and migration by the author of The Last Brother and Waiting for Tomorrow

About the Author

Nathacha  Appanah
Credit: F. Mantovani/Gallimard
Nathacha Appanah was born in Mahébourg, Mauritius. She is the author of Waiting for Tomorrow and the award-winning novel The Last Brother, which has been translated into sixteen languages. She works as a journalist and translator and lives in France.
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Geoffrey Strachan was awarded the Scott Moncrieff Prize for his translation of Le testament français (Dreams of My Russian Summers) in 1998. He has translated all of Andreï Makine's novels for publication in Britain and the United States.
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  • "How can a story so harrowing, so wrenching be so gorgeous? . . . Surreally relevant, [Tropic of Violence] proves revelatory."—Booklist, starred review
  • “Orphaned gang members and desperate refugees live on a machete’s edge in Appanah’s blistering depiction of postcolonial chaos in Mayotte, an island in the Mozambique channel.”Publishers Weekly, starred review
  • “Appanah’s heartrending, insightful story makes us understand—and feel—the steps leading toward bloody confrontation in this relentless world.”—Library Journal, starred review
  • "[Tropic of Violence] reads with the intimacy of a diary or the directness of testimony, which in the depictions of abject poverty and violence in Mayotte aid in the critique of French colonialism and the failures of postcolonial and humanitarian projects."Reading in Translation
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