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The Nubian Prince: A Novel Hardcover – June 27, 2006

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Moises Froissard's job is "to save lives." At least, that's what he tries to believe throughout El Mundo columnist Bonilla's bittersweet fourth novel. While there may be a grain of truth in his proclamation, the reality of Moises's occupation is less noble: he's a "scout" for secretive, exclusive Club Olympus, a supplier of beautiful and expensive prostitutes to the rich and famous. As a scout, Moises travels to exotic (and, usually, poverty-stricken) locales in search of beautiful men, women and children willing to become "models" for the club as a way out of their grim circumstances. While proud of his growing list of recruits, Moises is guarded about his job and uses his travels to isolate himself from his troubled family. Though the fleeting emotional attachments he sometimes forms with the "pieces" he scouts for the club violate the cardinal rule of his employment, it doesn't become a problem until Moises's first recruit, Luzmila, becomes a scout. When the two are pitted against each other in a race to recruit the "Nubian Prince," a handsome African coveted by an obsessed client, Luzmila relishes the opportunity to upstage Moises as revenge for recruiting her, and Moises is forced to confront his growing distaste for the job. (July)
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From Booklist

He tells himself he is saving lives. Moises Froissard, 22, gives up his philanthropic work as an artist without borders and becomes a global talent scout, searching for beautiful illegal immigrants--men, women, and especially children--and persuading them to enjoy the good life as prostitutes rented out to the wealthy. His boss, who runs the sex training and supply business, is direct: famines and floods are a boon because they give the trade some beautiful "pieces," provided that the famine has not done them too much damage before the scouts get there. She especially wants Moises to grab one gorgeous African illegal who she could market as "the Nubian prince." This is more a short story or situation than a novel, but it was a prizewinner in Spain, and the English translation ably captures the casual, intimate first-person narrative. The dark mockery of the powerful and the self-righteous is in eloquent contrast to the exploitation and the heartfelt anguish of those with no home. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Metropolitan Books; 1st edition (June 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805077812
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805077810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 0.9 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,835,162 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is not a book for those who are prudish about sex. It contains very little graphic, physical violence (but it is in there, make no mistake) and a whole lot of structural violence (economic or socio-political inequity). Along with the sex, the book raises a number of tricky ethical questions.

On the whole, this is a wonderful translation of a fascinating book. I would read other books (in English, sadly) by this author in a heartbeat. "The Nubian Prince," is a wonderful examination, and perhaps dark parody of, our neoliberal global system where people's bodies can be bought and sold according to the whims of the market. The idea of buying people--and experiences--is one deeply tied to the marketisation of everyday life and removal of all forms of regulation preventing capital--and human desire--from getting what it wants. Imagine how wonderfully free the world would be without all the pesky regulation that we get from governments and morality--why, it would be a perfectly self-perpetuating machine of fiscal harmony! A truly just system that rewards those who play into it with the greatest pay.

I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who like a little bit of a challenging read. It is not an emotionally comforting read, nor are there any real clear good or bad characters; things just are. Everything is a bit more complicated below the surface, which is where this book successfully takes us. At the end of the novel, think of all the people whose bodies (labour) we have bought in our quest for consumer goods--the iPhone made by migrant workers at Foxconn, the Nike's from Vietnam--and wonder if Moisés is a lone and rare canalla (scumbag).

Or read it and draw your own, completely opposite conclusions. That's what makes ideas (and life) so much fun! But seriously, read this book. Maybe get it from your local library if you're not sure you want to add it to your permanent collection.
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