How do you live in Algeria when you grow up speaking French, with a French mother? How do you live in France when you’ve spent your childhood in Algeria with an Algerian father? Tomboy is the story of a girl whose father calls her Brio, whose alter ego is Amine, and whose mother is a blue-eyed blond. But who is she? Born five years after Algerian independence in 1967, she navigates the cultural, emotional, and linguistic boundaries of identity living in a world that doesn’t seem to recognize her.
In this semiautobiographical novel, the young French Algerian author Nina Bouraoui introduces us to a girl who feels that Algeria is the country of men. Her childhood years spent in Algeria lead her to explore the borderland between genders as she tries to find her balance between nations, races, and identities. With prose modeling the rhythm of the seasons and the sea, Tomboy enters the innermost reality of a life lived on the edge of several cultures.
"Bouraoui's quiet and inwardly focused coming-of-age novel delves deeply into intimate questions of self-definition—and ultimately the urge to become a writer."—Publishers Weekly
“Reminiscent of Marguerite Duras’ The Lover, Bouraoui’s phrasing and pace are bold and naïve at the same time, much like a teenage girl. . . . Translators Marjorie Attignol Salvodon and Jehanne-Marie Gavarini have done a superb job of making Nina’s voice ring authentically high and low, shrill and profound. A beautiful and moving book, Tomboy is entirely worthy of its comparison to Duras.”—ForeWord
Praise for the original French Garçon manqué: “Painful, enlightening, fascinating, impossible, yet very real. . . . It is these visceral feelings experienced by almost everyone of double nationality that Nina Bouraoui so masterfully expresses through her highly sensual and incantatory writing. In the beginning of a twenty-first-century world of demographic upheaval, exile, and thousands of children born of mixed race, many can relate to Bouraoui’s struggles; thus the universal appeal of Garçon manqué in spite of its French-Algerian context.”—Melissa Marcus, World Literature Today
World Literature Today
“Nina Bouraoui is by all accounts one of the most compelling of today’s young French writers. The publication of her best-known work, Tomboy, is timely, as are its themes of French-Algerian biculturalism and trans-gender identity. Salvodon and Gavarini have rendered Bouraoui’s intense, hypnotic and breathless style with admirable skill.”—Isabelle de Courtivron, professor of French studies and director of the Center for Bilingual/Bicultural Studies at MIT
Isabelle de Courtivron
is a welcome first translation of Bouraoui's work. . . . The translators have made a fine novel fully accessible to readers of English."
—Brian Thompson, Women in French Studies
Women in French Studies