First Fiction Fridays: Grand Menteur

January 8, 2016

Grand Menteur exposes the intricacies of the legendary Mauritian street-gang the Sous, a group of ne’er-do-wells whose long cons are after the devil’s own heart. When the daughter of the gang’s resident liar and alibi-maker is selected to join the group, the Grand Menteur sends his only family away to live on the streets of 1970s Toronto in the hopes that she will escape the fate of the damned.

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GrandMenteur

What:

Grand Menteur (BookThug, 2015)

 

Who:

Jean Marc Ah-Sen is a Toronto-based writer. Grand Menteur was chosen as a Globe and Mail Top 100 Book of 2015.

 

Why you need to read this book now:

Grand Menteur exposes the intricacies of the legendary Mauritian street-gang the Sous, a group of ne’er-do-wells whose long cons are after the devil’s own heart. When the daughter of the gang’s resident liar and alibi-maker is selected to join the group, the Grand Menteur sends his only family away to live on the streets of 1970s Toronto in the hopes that she will escape the fate of the damned.

Spanning the cities of the world and written in a combination of English, French, and Mauritian Kreol, Grand Menteur reflects Mauritius’ own convoluted history with colonialism, while also exploring the immigrant experience with sensitivity and outrage. More than a chronicle of the gangs exploits (which include secret newspapers, myths of sacred poulterers, and police constables who double as gang members), the book’s own authorship is frequently called into question as a diary, an alibi, and a fabrication that would rival even one of the Menteur’s greatest disappearing acts.

Narrated by the Menteur’s daughter from adolescence through adulthood, a reader beholds her linguistic evolution and her dabbling in local idiom to suit circumstances to her advantage, often slipping in and out of slangs with success and failure. An immigrant’s world is sometimes a world on the margins, where exclusion and belittlement become the currency of survival. The Menteur’s daughter however, finds meaning and self-determination in other places as well: in the spoiled grace of happiness, and in the poisoned cup of expectation.

 

What other people are saying about Grand Menteur:

"Unsentimental but passionate, a singular book." –Jade Colbert, Globe & Mail

"Ah-Sen's book is committed to going its way, and the result is an inventive escape from the conventional." –Naden Ruthnum, National Post

 

Listen to Jean Marc Ah-Sen talk about Grand Menteur:

 

  

 

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Thank you to BookThug, especially Hazel Millar, for sharing Grand Menteur with us!


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