Cousin K


Cousin K

Yasmina Khadra
Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith and Alyson Waters
Afterword by Robert Polito

French Voices Series

96 pages


April 2013


$15.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

“Such was the battle that raged between Cousin K and me: good done badly; evil done well.” And such is the twisted logic of good and bad, right and wrong, knitted into this novella by one of the most powerful voices to emerge from North Africa in our time. With his father brutally killed as a traitor during a national liberation war and his older brother an army officer far away, the young narrator lives reclusively with his mother, who scorns him. He turns to his young cousin for affection, only to be mocked and humiliated so deeply that his love becomes hopelessly entangled with hatred. 

Fate places a young woman in the narrator’s path when he rescues her from a violent attack, and the reawakening of his confused passions proceeds toward terrible vengeance. In this nameless narrator’s tormented reflections, played out against the backdrop of an indifferent world, Yasmina Khadra plumbs the mysteries of the crippled heart’s desires.

Author Bio

Yasmina Khadra is the feminine pseudonym adopted by Mohammed Moulessehoul to avoid military censorship. Moulessehoul was born in the Algerian Sahara in 1955 and at one time was an officer in the Algerian military. His recent fiction trilogy on Middle Eastern realities—The Swallows of Kabul, The Attack, and The Sirens of Baghdad—has been widely acclaimed and translated. Moulessehoul is now retired from the military and living in France. Donald Nicholson-Smith and Alyson Waters are both seasoned translators. This is their first translation together.


Praise for the French edition:

Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. With a kind of enraged obstinacy, Yasmina Khadra applies his lapidary style to the exploration of some of the human soul’s muddiest depths. Here as elsewhere in his work, the inner life, as alienated as it might be, never takes leave of worldly realities. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”—Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité

"Tense and lyrical."—Publishers Weekly

"Cousin K may be a small book but it is a giant of a literary work."—Steve Emmett, New York Journal of Books

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