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The Mirage of El Ouafi (Le Mirage El Ouafi)

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Original Language: French | 192 pp. | March 2019

2 Seas represents: Dutch, Nordic and English (US & Canada) rights

LITERARY ESSAYS| NON-FICTION

Bouhera El Ouafi, the first ever French Olympic Champion marathon runner, now lies forgotten. Fabrice Colin follows the traces we have left of his story to tell his entertaining and enigmatic tale, woven between history and novel.

In 1928, the Algerian Boughera El Ouafi wins the Olympic gold medal for France, but the glory of his victory is rapidly eclipsed by the colonization of Algeria. Thirty years later, the champion is killed in murky and miserable circumstances in a Parisian café – double jeapordy for this French colonial subject and glorious Algerian hero. The legendary figure of El Ouafi, the now-forgotten athletic icon, oscillates between heroism and obscurity.

But who really was Boughera El Ouafi? All we have left is gossipy press articles, meager administrative documents and nephews and nieces brought up in the shadow of their famous ancestor. Fabrice Colin, a novelist raised in Alger in the 1970s, is haunted by the presence of this ghostly runner in the Algerian desert. But one day, an old friend comes out of nowhere and sets him on the path of discovery… The eras collide, trouble brews, and the mystery thickens.

In this melancholy tale of a forgotten hero, Fabrice Colin brilliantly untangles the story’s threads to give us a breath-taking tale based on sociological and historical truth.

The author of numerous novels, detective stories, and books for young adults, Fabrice Colin has been awarded the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire several times over for numerous titles, including Bal de Givre à New York (Frost Ball in New York) (Albin Michel, 2011), Blue Jay Way (Sonatine, 2012), La Poupée Kafka (Kafka’s Doll) (Acte Sud, 2016).