Tomorrow They Won't Dare to Murder Us
by Joseph Andras
This title was previously available on NetGalley and is now archived.
Pub Date 23 Feb 2021 | Archive Date 23 Feb 2021
Verso Books (US), Verso Fiction
Winner of the Prix Goncourt for first novel, one of the most prestigious literary awards in France
A young revolutionary plants a bomb in a factory on the outskirts of Algiers during the Algerian War. The bomb is timed to explode after work hours, so no one will be hurt. But the authorities have been watching. He is caught, the bomb is defused, and he is tortured, tried in a day, condemned to death, and thrown into a cell to await the guillotine. A routine event, perhaps, in a brutal conflict that ended the lives of more than a million Muslim Algerians.
But what if the militant is a “pied-noir”? What if his lover was a member of the French Resistance? What happens to a “European” who chooses the side of anti-colonialism?
By turns lyrical, meditative, and heart-stoppingly suspenseful, this novel by Joseph Andras, based on a true story, was a literary and political sensation in France, winning the Prix Goncourt for First Novel and being acclaimed by Le Monde as “vibrantly lyrical and somber” and by the journal La Croix as a “masterpiece”.
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 14 members
Tomorrow They Won’t Dare to Murder Us by Joseph Andras Reviewed by Jason Chambers Joseph Andras’s slim debut novel, winner of the prix Goncourt du Premier Roman (First Novel), is the fictionalization of the story of Fernand Iveton, a pied noir in Algeria in early 1957, during the Algerian War for Independence. Fernand and Hélène are lovers in Algiers during the Algerian War for Independence (1954-62). When Fernand plants a bomb in the factory where he works, he is quickly arrested, tortured, and sentenced to death. Joseph Andras skillfully weaves Fernand and Hélène’s present with their past and presents this single action as a launch point for this brief novel about love, politics, and freedom. Opening the novel, Fernand meets with his Algerian National Liberation Front (NLF) contact, who gives him two bombs in shoeboxes. Due to the size of his bag, he only takes one, which he hides in the factory. Within hours, revealed by some unknown source, the police arrest him. They are aware of the existence of the second bomb and torture him with increasing brutality to reveal the names and descriptions of his accomplices, as well as the location of the second bomb, the factory where the bombs were made. He knows very little, yet he eventually tells what he knows, while inventing answers for the other questions, to cease the ongoing torture. While Fernand is held in custody, Hélène supports him by destroying evidence left at home, and undergoing her own interrogation at the police station, albeit under far less duress. Upon her release, the reader gets their first clear insight to the split in the society. The police have paraded Fernand before photographers and placed stories in the media naming him a terrorist and traitor, a danger to society. Yet, when Hélène takes a taxi home from the police station, the driver, upon learning her identity, reveres them both. He calls them heroes, patriots, and he refuses payment. Interspersed amongst these present narratives is the tender story of the couple, and their relationship. Fernand is Algerian, though his parents came from the continent. Hélène comes from Poland. They each have communist roots and links to—and pride in—the French Resistance against the Nazis. Her support for Fernand, and resilience in the onslaught of local media and manufactured outrage would be ripe territory for a novel of it’s own. By and by, the novel explores, moving easily from past to present and back, the ugliness and brutality of the French control in Algeria, through revelations about murders, inequality, and prisoner treatment. Colonial police commit ruthless torture against orders from France. Inequity is punctuated by Fernand’s treatment, where, even in prison, European prisoners receive two blankets to one for Algerians, and two showers and shaves per week compared to a only one for the North Africans. The murder of Fernand’s friend, Henri, triggers his activism. Throughout the novel, Andras draws lines to show the segmentation of the Algerian society—French versus Algerian, French versus pied noir versus Arabs, French resistance versus Algerian freedom fighters. By turns, readers will feel the echoes of Camus, a pied noir himself, whose opposition to Algerian separation still contributes to his complex legacy; Sartre, (We Are All Assassins), who supported the Communists who favored it; and Kafka, who reverbates in the bureaucracy of the courts and sentencing. Iveton’s end is at once unfairly expedited and concurrently dragged through the black box of the French-Algerian penal system, where the inputs of politicians and public outrage hold a higher stance than justice. In all, Iveton’s story, whether you know or not the ending in advance, is one of political outrage, tender relationships, and an ending stirring in pathos.
Lest we forget........ In my case it was not a case of forgetting but a great lacuna of not knowing. I've never heard of Fernand Iveton and his affair. I never put the jigsaw puzzle together. Oh I knew that Algeria's release from the French colonial yoke was violent but that was it, no more details. Nothing else we grew up being taught, no other 'pieces' in our daily news fodder. So this sentence from Mr Andras drove the point home: "Well, so: the day France celebrated victory over the Germans, I don't know how many Muslims, thousands, more, were being massacred in the country, at Setif, at Guelma." So thank you Mr Andras for bringing this to my attention, for giving me other pieces of the puzzle of our current situation. We live together across this blue sea and I for one do not know what it really means when a French President shakes the hand of his Algerian counterpart, I do not know about the blood split and covered. Andras gives us his fictionalised account of the life of the Communist militant Fernand Iveton, who was the only European executed during the Algerian War because of his commitment and his actions to the National Liberation Front (Algeria). Andras writes with immediacy, his alternating of what Fernand does and what happens to him to Fernand's story with Helene gives different perspective to the whole story. Fernand becomes a person. Even the paragraphs in French, Arabic, English, although confusing to me, created a sense of 'overwhelming' by what is happening which was appropriate at that time in the story. Seeing a picture of Fernand and Helene I thought of how easy it is to loose our facade, our labels, and become something else. In this photo Fernand and Helene look nicely put together, just like my father and mother in their photos of that time period. But Fernand was made known to the public not with these photos but with photos taken after his arrest and torture, so stripped of any kind of dignity whatsoever. So then very easy to label differently, 'dirty', 'unkept', 'terrorist'. Narrative is controlled by the ones who have access to showers and good clothing. An ARC gently given by author/publisher through Netgalley in return for a review.
Ideologically charged, moving and powerful; Andras' novel provides a lyrical take on the most raw parts of reality that feels topical and timeless.
This is Joseph Andras' first novel. The book retraces the life of the Communist militant Fernand Iveton, who was the only European executed during the Algerian War because of his commitment and his actions to the National Liberation Front (Algeria). Joseph Andras was awarded the French Prix Goncourt on May 9, 2016 but before the ceremony he sent a letter to the Académie Goncourt to decline the prize and his endowment. , He declared that competition and rivalry were in his eyes notions foreign to writing and creation. From the perspective of decades in the future, the narrative is painfully familiar in its depiction of man vs bureaucracy. The characters are vividly human, not caricatures. The action moves around in time but has a strong plot spine. Highly recommended If the subject piques your interest.
This book is almost impossible to classify as it covers so many aspects of so many different genres. The story is interesting and the relationships are sensitively drawn. It does not shy away from challenging or political observations. This is quite a short book considering the breadth of its reach but did not feel lacking in that regard.
A short book that introduces readers to Fernand Iveton, who was executed during Algerian war. Iventon is caught with a bomb and is taken in, by the French authorities. He is tortured for hours, days and is interrogated. Throughout the book, using various instances and happenstances that surrounds Iventon, we learn the influence of French for over a century and the colonization practices in place. This book puts a perspective on the era's French politics that is engaging with readers' political ideology. In this short book, Joseph Andras manages to weave a story, a humane story about Iventon and the contrived nature of bureaucracy, and colonial powers to control and abuse a country. <i>Thank you to Netgalley and Verso Books for providing me with a free copy of this e-book in exchange for an honest review. </i>
I think this will be a book that I love but the netgalley arc is so poorly formatted that I can't tell. I've downloaded it twice as a Kindle book, and I get French and the English translation on alternating lines in the text, plus smatterings of Arabic, plus big question marks where my Ipad can't read the intended symbol. When I download the PDF file it's corrupted and unreadable. This is the first time on Netgalley I've literally been unable to make my way through a book because of the formatting. The parts that I can read are intriguing, so 3 stars, perhaps with more to follow, and I'll wait to review on other sites when the actual print book is available to me.
I received an electronic ARC of this book via NetGalley for an honest review. This rather short book is a novelization of the death--and, by extension, the life--of Fernand Iveton, an Algerian-born communist of French and Spanish ancestry, and the only pied-noir (a person of European descent born in Algeria while it was under French rule) to be executed by the French government for his involvement in the FLN during Algeria's war for independence. I can't speak to how historically accurate this telling is, because I'm no expert on the topic. It is based on fact. It's a beautifully written and emotionally stirring little book. Despite its brevity, it does a wonderful job characterizing not only Fernand, but the other people around him as well. The narrative moves back and forth through time, but it becomes clear pretty quickly which parts are taking place in the "present" (1956/57), and which are told in flashback. It isn't exactly a story where anything is or should be a surprise. The description of the book calls it suspenseful, but Fernand Iveton was a real person who was really executed. While the prose is often beautiful, it is not by nature a "pleasant" read--there are extended depictions of torture, and themes of terrorism and official brutality run throughout the narrative. The novel has to deal with these things, given what it is, and it never feels gratuitous. The ARC I received did have some serious formatting issues, but I trust these will be resolved by final publication.