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Book of the week: Tropic of violence by Nathacha Appanah

Nathacha Appanah, author of the award-wining The Last Brother, returns with a powerful novel about lost youth on an overseas region forgotten by its 'métropole'.

On the island of Mayotte, Marie, a nurse, adopts a baby abandoned by refugees and names him Moïse. But when Marie dies, Moïse is left completely alone, plunged into uncertainty and turmoil, set on a collision course with the gangs of the largest and most infamous slum on Mayotte: Gaza.

On an island paradise on the edge of chaos, a small choir of narrators takes up this story of lost youth in the middle of the Indian Ocean. From Bruce the terrifying gang leader, to Olivier the police officer fighting a helpless battle and Stéphane the naïve aid worker, Tropic of Violence shines a powerful light on the violence, deprivation and isolation that tears apart this island, largely unnoticed by metropolitan France.

Tropic of Violence was translated from the French by Geoffrey Strachan, and is published by Maclehose Press.


Nathacha Appanah is a Mauritian-French author. She was brought up in Mauritius and worked as a journalist before moving to France in 1998. The Last Brother, her first novel translated into English, was awarded the FNAC Fiction Prize in 2007 in its French edition. The struggle of the Department of Migratory authorities and the delinquency of youth in the overseas French islands is a crucial topic for her to depict in her novels.

Geoffrey Strachan is a translator of French and German literature into English. He is best known for his renderings of the novels of French-Russian writer Andreï Makine. He has also translated works by Yasmina Réza, Elie Wiesel and Jérôme Ferrari. He has won both the Scott-Moncrieff Prize (for translation from French) and the Schlegel-Tieck Prize (for translation from German).

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