On the eve of the presidential elections the whole country is buzzing: for the first time in history, a candidate of Algerian heritage might win. You can hear the dismay of some that the next French President might be an Arab, and the snide murmurs of others whose cynicism will keep them from voting. . . But the overwhelming noise on the street comes from those who eagerly embrace "change they can believe in."
It is against this backdrop that the sprawling Nerrouche family gathers to celebrate a wedding in the former mining town of Saint-Etienne, in the center of France. Young Krim should be focused on his mission for the day: he is the best man for his favorite cousin Slimane, a.k.a. Slim. But Krim is restless and distracted.
Is it the palpable unease surrounding the alliance between a Berber groom and an Arab bride—both French-born, both of Algerian origin, but whose families get on like oil and water? Is it the nagging suspicion that the groom might be gay? Or is it the flow of text messages that Krim keeps receiving from his mysterious Paris-based cousin, Nazir (the only family member to be conspicuously absent from the festivities)?
As this gripping twenty-four hour countdown unravels, Krim hops on a high-speed train heading to the nation's capital, and we hold our breath as we watch family and politics collide and the hopes of a nation unravel.
With a combination of ease, grace and an uncanny sense of urgency, twenty-eight-year-old Sabri Louatah brushes away the boundaries between literary and commercial fiction. The Savages is paced like a thriller, but its intimate exploration of a superbly dysfunctional family, its vulnerable and flawed characters, have the intensity, mystery, and unsettling quality of first-class literary fiction.
Louatah has created The Savages as a novel in four volumes—bringing together the ambition and scope of nineteenth-century literary epics and the best in addictive modern television series.