‘Sad is the day when the children of our revolution become our enemies.’

1987. Algeria is on the brink of civil war.  In the market square in El Oued, a political fugitive Muhammad Madani poses as Rahwun, the story-teller.  With tales that roar back and forth through time, he narrates the history of that magical and formidable country, fables of intrigue and of strife, of children sold and of women forsaken, of families uprooted and of families emigrating to France, of disillusionment and disappointment, of wars and war.  

Drawn by Madani’s wit, wisdom and compassion, his listeners return week after week to piece together the ragged fragments that make a mysterious, sinister and subversive whole.  But Madani is unaware his chronicles of Algeria past and present are being recorded by an undercover policeman—or is he?

‘A brilliant combination of the historian and the teller of tales.  Readers are likely to be reminded of Midnight’s Children, but Brebner is an absolute original.’  Penelope Fitzgerald. Booker Prize & National Book Critics Circle Prize Winner.

‘The sheer pleasure of all these stories…heavy with saccharine and irony but beautifully told and wandering like footsteps lost in the desert until finally, in a quite outstanding ending, eventually coming back on themselves.’  Time Out.

‘Philip Brebner's skilfully constructed novel...is remarkable for its original style and potent, poetic prose.' N J Dawood. The Times

‘North African enthusiasts will be entranced.’ Daily Telegraph.