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Montecore Hardcover – Deckle Edge, March 1, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf; First Edition edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307270955
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307270955
  • Product Dimensions: 8.7 x 5.9 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,311,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

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

Review

"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."
Publishers Weekly


"Amusing and multilayered. . .Khemiri adds a distinctive and quirky voice—actually several of them—to contemporary literature." —Kirkus (starred)


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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Sherry Stanley on December 30, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Without a doubt, Montecore is the most provocative book I have read in years. The author challenges the reader first of all through plot and then through narration and next through culture perceptions and finally through language.

I am now on a hunt for everything Khemeri has written. I rarely make predictions, but thinking of this author as a future Nobel prize winner doesn't stretch the imagination.

If there is a prize for translator, then the translator of this book deserves the prize. She is one of the reasons that this book is not a page-turner; it's a stop-and-marvel book and a stop-and-ponder book.

I read this book when it was brand new and have recommended it to all my friends ---- but asking my US friends to read books by a Swedish-Tunisian author is a futile task. They have no idea what they are missing.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By las cosas on November 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
First let me start by giving a huge round of applause to the translator of this novel originally published in Swedish, Rachel Willson-Broyles. The first thing I did after finishing this book was to order her other translation, Strindberg's Star. Unfortunately this is the only work by the author thus far translated into English.

On one level this is a familiar story of a hard working fellow, Abbas, from a developing country who falls in love and moves to a wealthy European country. He is a dark skinned Muslim while his adopted country is filled with big blond Christians. Pretending to be tolerant they ignore, distrust and undermine his every effort. Slowly his determination and intelligence shine through and he slowly but surely advances up from the lower rungs of society, advancing as the country's economy advances. But he can see the coming recession and fears that he will be kicked back down the rungs when it occurs. Unfortunately he is right, but the cause is only indirectly economic reversals in the country. The primary cause is primal, ugly, racism. Blaming problems on the other, the immigrants the dark skinned, the non-Christian.

The story of struggling immigrants facing racism is hardly original, though the variations of that story can never to told too often, particularly when the setting is as unusual as this one. The country where he settles is Sweden, renowned for their liberal politics and progressive immigration policies.

But that is not what makes this book so unusual and thought provoking. The book is narrated by two characters: Abbas' eldest son (Jonas) living in Stockholm and Abbas' oldest friend (Kadir), living in Tunisia. The form of narration is a set of writings.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 12, 2011
Format: Hardcover
Abbas left Tunisia to settle in Stockholm. Over eight years ago, he vanished. An email from Kadir of Tunisia to first time published novelist Jonas Khemiri offers an intriguing proposition. Kadir claims to have been Abbas' best friend at a Tunisian orphanage while Jonas is Abbas' adult son. The former wants to collaborate with a latter on Abbas's biography.

Abbas came to Sweden without a krona to his name or an identity beyond orphan as he fell in love with a flight attendant. With money lent from Kadir, Abbas follows his beloved to Stockholm, where like a Cinderfella they marry and raise a family. However, the North African fails to adapt to life in Sweden and worse is unable to support his family as a photographer as xenophobic Swediot bigots vandalize his studio. Frustrated in his attempts to fit in while his son taunts him, he gave up and disappeared only to become world recognized as a superstar in New York.

This is an excellent look at modern Swedish society's so called melting pot in which one prime ingredient is acceptable in the stew; though this could be just about anywhere with few true international cities. The story line is driven by Kadir and Jonas who share commentary on Abbas. However, what makes the novel superior is the Tunisian-Swedish dialect (incredibly translated into English by Rachel Willson-Broyles) as readers will believe Abbas is a real person whose journey from frightened child to world accolades starts in Tunisia, goes to Sweden and ends in New York.

Harriet Klausner
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Adam Grymkowski on August 12, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is Khemiri's best that I've read! He's a very inventive, original story teller who mixes smartness, uniqueness and humor! And yes, he writes about burning political and social issues which concern not only Sweden!
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