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The Crack Magazine


Satisfaction by Nina Bouraoui

An outsider because of her nationality, her gender and her increasing feelings of jealousy towards her son’s classmate, Madame Akli’s notebooks become a way of trying to interrogate her dislocation from life in Algiers in the late seventies. Increasingly alienated from her husband and son and paranoid about the Algerian authorities view of mixed marriages in general and French people in particular, she nevertheless puts on the front of a good citizen. It’s a front, however, that constantly seems to be about to fall apart in the presence of her son’s tomboy friend, Bruce, and mother, Catherine, whose sexual precocity unnerves and disturbs Madame Akli. Catherine also seems to see through Madame Akli’s carefully composed exterior, “She’s a bit unhinged, but very sweet.” Tense and unsettling, Nina Bouraoui’s Satisfaction (beautifully translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins) is either the portrait of a woman on the edge of a nervous breakdown or the portrait of a woman justifiably feeling alienated and fearful of an expat life that’s not quite going to plan, whose notebooks are a desperate way of explaining the inexplicable, “Words bear witness to my experiences, my inventions - polaroid snapshots of my thoughts, comforting me when I’m unable to connect with normality.” A great book. Here’s to Héloïse Press publishing more of Nina Bouraoui

Satisfaction – Nina Bouraoui – (translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins) - publ. Héloïse Press - £12.95

Steven Long