Attacking the Earth and the Sun

Original title: Attaquer la terre et le soleil

Author: Belezi, Mathieu

Publication Date:

September 2022



Original language and publisher

French | Le Tripode

Territories Handled

Netherlands, Nordic Countries

Territories Sold

Spanish (World) (Sexto Piso)
Arabic (Dar Tashkeel)
Netherlands (Vleugels)
Catalan (Sembra)
Greece (Opera, at auction)
Italy (Feltrinelli Gramma, at auction - two book deal)
Brazil (Todavia)
Germany ((Matthes & Seitz)
English (World) (The Other Press)
Turkey (offer received)


Literary Fiction

Number of copies sold:



  • Prix littéraire du Monde 2022 (winner)
  • Prix Patrimoines 2022 (shortlisted)
  • Prix du Roman Fnac 2022 (longlisted)
  • Prix Jean Giono 2022 (longlisted)
  • Prix du Livre Inter 2023 (winner)

Attacking the Earth and the Sun

Original title: Attaquer la terre et le soleil

Author: Belezi, Mathieu


Mathieu Belezi doesn’t pull any punches: he puts forth his vision of French colonization in Algeria. —Leila Slimani

There is a powerful rhythm, a percussion, an intensity to the language. Florent Georgesco, Le Monde

A revolutionary way to revisit this historical narrative. Jean-Claude Lebrun, L’Humanité

An author whose prosaic vulnerability makes one marvel. Jérôme Béglé, Le Figaro

The scintillating touch of a writer who knows what it means to write. La Croix

A lyrical and passionate form, but without pathos.  Jean-Claude Vantroyen, Le Soir

Séraphine arrives in Algeria in the 1840’s with her husband, her children, her sister and her brother-in-law. She will try to build a French village there, and cultivate the earth. But a cholera pandemic will soon ruin her efforts to build anything.

The other voice of the novel belongs to a soldier in charge of the « pacification » of the country. Both will soon discover the barbarity of what has become their daily lives.

This masterful novel follows a group of settlers and soldiers throughout the hellish madness that was the colonization of Algeria by France during the 19th century.

For over twenty years, Mathieu Belezi has been composing a powerful and harmonious collection of novels, all characterized by his meticulous prose. From the very first lines of Attacking the Earth and the Sun, a palpable musicality strikes the page, echoing the distinctive language of Belezi’s first novel, The Little King (Le Petit Roi), published in 1998.

It was possibly that very throughline that led to this dazzling new novel. Written over several months last fall, the tragically beautiful Attacking the Earth and the Sun inhabits the voices of a woman and a soldier as they recount the hell and madness that this colonization brought about.

A lifetime of writing experience culminates in this succinct yet sensational novel, whose tone contains whispers of Faulkner.

Mathieu Belezi has taught in Louisiana and travelled widely. He has lived in Mexico, Nepal, India, Greece, and Italy. Dedicated to writing for the past twenty years, he is currently based in Rome.

Marketing Information

  • English sample available