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 mektoubtheir destinyalone. 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 fates 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. Shell 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
Its Monday and, like every Monday, Ive been over at Madame Burlauds. Madame
Burlauds old, shes ugly and she stinks of RID anti-lice shampoo. Shes
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 Id better see somebody because they thought I was shut down or depressed or something. Maybe theyve got a point, I dont give a shit, I go, its paid for by the government.
I guess Ive been off like this since my dad left. He went a long way away. He went back to Morocco to ...
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.
(Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
Full Review (765 words).
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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