Paname Underground

Author: Zarca, Johann

Publication Date:

October 2017



Original language and publisher

French | Goutte d’Or

Paname Underground

Author: Zarca, Johann

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic, and North American rights
  • Winner Prix de Flore 2017 


« Johann Zarca is THE most exciting author this too-well-behaved year had to offer. This punk investigation within a hidden world unfolding while the hipsters sleeps is something you will read cover- to-cover » — Frédéric Beigbeder, Le Figaro

« Sex, drug, prostitution, brawls, insecurity: this is the underground world Zarca invites us to explore through his sharp writing, without pity or romance. There is some humor – mostly black humor – a huge amount of adrenaline, other substances, and actions, which aren’t always legal. Most of all, this book is full of humanity. » — Camille H, Le Bonbon

To write the best Paris underground guidebook, the author had to put himself on the line. In this autofiction written for the average Joe, Zarca provides us with a truly uncensored guide of a city, which can be extreme, borderline and violent.

To research his book, the author did the unthinkable: he went down to the catacombs through a manhole cover; he wandered through the hoodlums’ Barbes; he bought a gun from left bank fascists and from Pigalle’s call girls; he tried 4-MEC, a new drug used by some in the gay community; he got knocked down by the junkies of “la Chappelle”; he explored the Rue Saint-Denis Love Hotel; and he even ventured in a gloomy backroom located in Montparnasse – all this, of course, while under the influence of cocaine, alcohol and pot.

However, while the author-narrator is working on his Paris underground guide, the urban adventure takes a bad turn. Against his will, he gets mixed up in a Belleville versus Barbes gang brawl and becomes persona non grata in Belleville. A few days later, he almost gets murdered. Meanwhile, his sister overdoses and dies. Zarca down spirals in drugs and rage and gets stuck in the escalation of violence.

Zarca uses and abuses his nightlife to take the reader along to actual places in Paris he didn’t even know existed.

Johan Zarca describes himself as ‘a young man from the projects who loved to wander near the margin of his time, of the troubled past and of language’. Earlier, he published his investigation about sex workers in the southwest of Paris (Le Bosse de Boulogne, 2014). he is back with a raw story, full of rhythm, which reflects his urban hip-hop perfectly.