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Summary and book reviews of Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow

by Faïza Guène

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène X
Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow by Faïza Guène
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    Jul 2006, 192 pages

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Book Summary

Doria, 15, is growing up in the rough Paris immigrant public housing projects. She sets her dreams against the grim daily struggle of her life: "It's like a film script. . . . trouble is, our scriptwriter's got no talent. And he's never heard of happily ever after."

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.

Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow
by Faïza Guène

It’s Monday and, like every Monday, I’ve been over at Madame Burlaud’s. Madame Burlaud’s old, she’s ugly and she stinks of RID anti-lice shampoo. She’s harmless, but sometimes she worries me. Today, she took a whole bunch of weird pictures out of her bottom drawer, these huge stains that looked like dried vomit. She asked me what they made me think of. I told her and she stared at me with her bugged-out eyes, shaking her head like those little toy dogs in the backs of cars.

It was school that signed me up to see her. The teachers, at least when they were between strikes, decided I’d better see somebody because they thought I was shut down or depressed or something. Maybe they’ve got a point, I don’t give a shit, I go, it’s paid for by the government.

I guess I’ve been off like this since my dad left. He went a long way away. He went back to Morocco to ...

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Reviews

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The strength of Kiffe Kiffe Tomorrow (pronounced keef) is the narrator's voice. Doria, a bubbling pot of contradicting teenage emotions is a wickedly funny observer of her environment, who doesn't believe in leaving things unsaid and has made a moral code for herself from TV programs, "TV today is like the poor person's Koran". Through short, diary-like chapters she brings us up close and personal with her life and the very real problems of being a poor immigrant living in an effective ghetto, surrounded by poverty, bigotry, racism and misogyny - so we can get some sense of how overwhelming it is to survive in such an environment, let alone to dream of finding a better life...continued

Full Review (765 words).

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Media Reviews

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

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

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

Publishers Weekly
This small novel reads like a quiet celebration within a chaotic ghetto.

Library Journal
Humor is abundant, despite the grim themes, and Doria is a compelling protagonist. Readers will cheer as she navigates through volatile terrain and eventually triumphs.

Booklist - Hazel Rochman
Touching, furious, sharp, and very funny.... honest about the oppression of women and about the prejudice, both ways, Guene also shows those who break free.

Kirkus Reviews
[A] smart, upbeat debut...an empowering new voice transforms kif-kif-same old, same old-into kiffer, something to be crazy about.

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

Author Blurb Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street
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.

Reader Reviews

Lisa Conors

A relateable novel
This is a great book about a teenager who expresses all of her feeling, all the while being heartfelt.

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Beyond the Book

22-year-old Faïza Guène (pronounced Fie-ee-za Gen - first syllable rhymes with pie) attends the University of St. Denis where she is a sociology major, and has just completed her first short film.  The child of Algerian immigrants, she was born in France and grew up in the public housing projects of Pantin, a suburb North-East of Paris.  For several years before going to university she was part of a publicly financed neighborhood film project writing scripts for TV.  She started writing Kiffe Kiffe when she was about seventeen, writing in longhand in cafes and on her parents' bed in their two-bed apartment that she shares with her parents and two siblings.  She describes her mother as "a ...

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