Seven Houses in France by Bernardo Atxaga
A Novel

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Synopsis

A brooding novel of colonial intrigue in the Congo, from the author of The Accordionist’s Son and Obabakoak

The year is 1903, and the garrison of Yangambi on the banks of the Congo is under the command of Captain Lalande Biran. The captain is also a poet whose ambition is to amass a fortune and return to the literary cafés of Paris. His glamorous wife, Christine, has a further ambition: to own seven houses in France, a house for every year he has been abroad. At Lalande Biran’s side are the ex-legionnaire van Thiegel, a brutal womanizer, and the servile, treacherous Donatien, who dreams of running a brothel. The officers spend their days guarding enslaved rubber-tappers and kidnapping young girls, and at their hands the jungle is transformed into a wild circus of human ambition and absurdity. But everything changes with the arrival of a new officer and brilliant marksman: the enigmatic Chrysostome Liege. An outstanding new novel from the critically acclaimed and prizewinning author Bernardo Atxaga, Seven Houses in France is a blackly comic tale which reveals the darkest sides of human desire.
 

About Bernardo Atxaga

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Bernardo Atxaga is a prizewinning novelist and poet, whose books, including Obabakoak and The Accordionist's Son, have won critical acclaim in Spain and abroad. His works have been translated into twenty-two languages, and he lives in the Basque country.
 
Published September 4, 2012 by Graywolf Press. 260 pages
Genres: History, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Seven Houses in France

Kirkus Reviews

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He’s a crack shot, is devoted to the Virgin Mary and doesn’t seem to have an interest in the native girls, a fact that Van Thiegel begins to exploit by referring contemptuously to Chrysostome as a “poofter.” Biran tries to speed up his ability to acquire his seven houses and is able to when the p...

Aug 02 2012 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

The Guardian

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Bernardo Atxaga can claim to be the most successful writer in his native language – but then his language is Basque, which is spoken by fewer than 700,000 people, and so complex that not many more feel inclined to learn it.

Dec 30 2011 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Atxaga possesses an uncanny gift for details bordering on the forensic, and he breathes life into this bevy of invariably perfectly pitched characters—from Captain Biran’s cowardly orderly Donatien to the mysterious Club Royal bartender Livo, who finally decides to take matters into his own h...

Jul 23 2012 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

City Book Review

The virginity checks and locking girls in cages until the men were ready to have sex with them were disgusting.

Sep 12 2012 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

Historical Novel Society

The Belgian occupation of the Congo was one of the bloodiest, cruelest events in modern history, a fact reflected in the title of this cryptic and powerful novel about colonialism.

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We Love This Book

Whilst the captain’s beautiful wife Christine languishes in Paris, urging him to amass enough wealth for seven houses (a house for each year he has been absent) the ‘officers’ spend their day alternating between guarding and punishing the slaves, entrapping young virgins for sexual conquest and t...

Mar 11 2011 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

Book Forum

During the height of the Belle Epoque, while comfortably ensconced in his palace in Brussels, King Leopold II of Belgium perpetrated a series of shadowy maneuvers that succeeded in making him the sole owner and master of an area almost 10,000 miles away: the Congo river, the land surrounding, and...

Sep 11 2012 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

The Coffin Factory

In the book Bartleby & Co., Enrique Vila-Matas chronicles all the writers with what he calls “Bartleby syndrome”: authors who prefer not to;

Sep 28 2012 | Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

Artswrap

This is an outstanding new novel from the critically acclaimed and prizewinning author Bernardo Atxaga, "Seven Houses in France" is a blackly comic tale which reveals the darkest sides of human desire.

| Read Full Review of Seven Houses in France: A Novel

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