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Brahms, Beers and Football (Bleu blanc brahms)

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Original Language: French | 224 pp. | August 2019

2 Seas represents: Dutch, Nordic and North American rights.

DEBUT NOVEL

(Jacqueline Chambon)

Sunday 12 July 1998. 5.30pm – this is the moment when we first meet Yannick and Hakim, two inseparable teenagers who have been keenly looking forward to this day. The final whistle of the novel is also that of the final whistle of the 1998 World Cup final between France and Brazil.

We meet the teenagers’ families as well as Marianne, the little middle-class girl with the forceful character who sets hearts racing, Ahmed, the son of the manager of the local kebab joint that is imbued with the odour of frying fat and a spirit of tomfoolery, Jean-Luc Pincole, the downstairs neighbour who is a big fan of Johnny Hallyday, and Guy Lermot, the Brahms lover on the first floor. Guy has never built up the courage to come out of the closet and it is eating away at him. He draws up a list setting out the reasons for staying and the reasons for leaving…

This little community lives for the on-field action and the beers, with its heart on its sleeve – until emotions that have been repressed for so long explode and reshuffle the deck of their destinies. A five-hour score playing the tune of France as it was in the late 1990s.

Youssef Abbas was born in Chartres and is 35 years old. Bleu blanc brahms is his debut novel.