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  • Print publication year: 2015
  • Online publication date: June 2017

VI - Revising the Beurette Label: Faïza Guène's Ongoing Quest to Reframe the Reception of Her Work

Summary

Laurent Ruquier: ‘Qu'est-ce que vous préférez, qu'on dise que vous êtes la Françoise Sagan des banlieues comme j'ai pu le lire, ou la petite soeur de Jamel Debbouze?’

Faïza Guène: ‘Si j'avais le choix, aucun des deux.’

On a tout essayé, France 2, October 11, 2004.

To understand the questions journalists asked nineteen-year-old Faïza Guène upon the publication of her début novel Kiffe kiffe demain (2004), it suffices to consider the introduction to an evening talk show on which she was a guest. The programme was ‘Les filles des cités doivent-elles se rebeller?’ (‘Must girls in the cités rebel?’), a special episode of Ça se discute, and presenter Jean-Luc Delarue's introduction of the theme makes reference to the death of Sohane Benziane, a seventeen-year-old burned to death in an apartment building basement for refusing the advances of a neighbourhood gang leader. He then added:

Il y a deux ans aussi Samira livrait dans un livre choc tout ce qu'elle avait subi, à savoir, l'enfer des tournantes qu'elle avait subies durant son adolescence. Par la voix de ces victimes, la face la plus obscure du monde des cités soufflait au monde tout court. La barbarie qui a détruit la vie de Sohane et de Samira fut une forme de déclic, enfin on prenait au sérieux la situation des filles et des femmes des cités.

Here Delarue is referring to Samira Bellil's 2002 narrative Dans l'enfer des tournantes (see Chapter IV), which launched a national conversation regarding the gender-specific challenges faced by young women in the French banlieues. This 2004 edition of Ça se discute purported to continue the conversation and to explore the difficulties many young women (implied to be of North African descent) had faced in their lives.

Faïza Guène was in many ways a logical guest for this programme: having just published a high-profile novel structured as the diary of a fifteen-year-old French-Moroccan girl named Doria, Guène had already participated in several television interviews. She was clearly a newsworthy person, given her age, her ethnic background, and the uncompromising, witty character she had developed in her novel. The weekly news magazine Le Nouvel Observateur had already published an enthusiastic profile of Guène and her novel, calling Guène the ‘Sagan des cités,’ or the Sagan of the cités, and the book was selling briskly upon its publication in the autumn of 2004.

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