Abbas Khemiri’s friends include Bono, Kofi Annan, and Salman Rushdie. He’s the greatest photojournalist of his time, illuminating the plight of the world’s poor and powerless, but he began life as an orphan in Tunisia. His “antique” (i.e., oldest) friend, Kadir, emails Jonas, Khemiri’s Tunisian-Swedish son, a novelist, to propose that they collaborate on a biography of Jonas’ famous father. Kadir is insistent, but Jonas is reluctant—he hasn’t seen his father in nine years. Jonas and Kadir begin a correspondence that conflicts in both substance and style. Kadir’s accounts of Abbas are admiring, and his writing is buoyant and often funny. Jonas’ memories are critical and laced with irony and rage. But both ultimately focus on racism and nativism, the “smothering set of prejudices” in Sweden that defied Abbas’ efforts to fit into Swedish society, support his family, and keep Jonas from feeling that he’s an outsider. Montecore will startle many American readers who know little of the anti-immigrant sentiments that have been fomenting in Sweden since the 1990s. An illuminating and involving novel. --Thomas Gaughan
"Funny, ambitious, and inventive. Also black: rage and tragedy pulse beneath the fireworks…a potent chemical mix." —The New York Times Book Review
"A hard-hitting and resonant tale of the modern immigrant experience in Sweden." —The Boston Globe
"Montecore brings a metafictional slyness to the kind of immigrant narrative that many Americans will immediately recognize with its elements of aspiration, disillusion, and filial rebellion...[It's] ambitious in the best sense." —New York Journal of Books
"Montecore deals in the sparkling tropes pf contemporary fiction but very successfully grounds them in old-fashioned familial anguish. With style to spare and a keen take on the political turmoil of a region recently thrown into high-media focus, Montecore shows a young novelist swinging for the fences and hitting hard."
"To those whose experience of Swedish fiction has been as bleak as Nordic winter, Montecore arrives as a sunny revelation. An exuberant account…the novel in fact challenges assumptions about Swedish identity…[A] rollicking tale." —Barnes & Noble
"Montecore is brilliant. Like its title—an invented creolized noun equal parts Arabic, French, Swedish, Siegfried & Roy, and Dungeons & Dragons—Jonas Hassen Khemiri's novel is itself a thrillingly hybrid creature: an immigrant story, a coming-of-age tale, an epistolary epic, an indictment of Swedish racism and nationalism, a meditation on storytelling and translation. . .Above all, however, this is a beautiful novel, a bewitching novel, as funny as it is heartbreaking, as self-aware as it is self-effacing, and certainly the best book that I've read in a long time." —Rattawut Lapcharoensap, author of Sightseeing
"[A] vibrant story of culture, class, and family history enlivened by Khemiri’s subtle wit and voice."
"Amusing and multilayered. . .Khemiri adds a distinctive and quirky voice—actually several of them—to contemporary literature." —Kirkus (starred)