Books · Read in 2022 · Reviews

Book Thoughts: A Bookshop in Algiers (Kaouther Adimi)

This is the way to learn about history


Title: A Bookshop in Algiers (Original French Title: Nos Richesses)
Author: Kaouther Adimi – Translator: Chris Andrews
Genre: Historical Fiction
First published: 2017
Edition: Paperback, published by Serpent’s Tail in 2022

In 1936, a young dreamer named Edmond Charlot opened a modest bookshop in Algiers. Once the heart of Algerian cultural life, where Camus launched his first book and the Free French printed propaganda during the war, Charlot’s beloved bookshop has been closed for decades, living on as a government lending library. Now it is to be shuttered forever. But as a young man named Ryad empties it of its books, he begins to understand that a bookshop can be much more than just a shop that sells books. A Bookshop in Algiers charts the changing fortunes of Charlot’s bookshop through the political drama of Algeria’s turbulent twentieth century of war, revolution and independence.


First line(s): 

As soon as you arrive in Algiers, you will have to tackle the steep streets, climb and then descend.


I read for two reasons. One: to escape the world. Two: to learn more about the world. This one definitely falls into that second category and taught me about a part of history that I knew hardly anything about. This little book, at 140 pages, is a glimpse into Algeria’s turbulent history and its fraught relationship with France.

I enjoyed this one a lot. First of all I loved the writing style, which was a mixture of first person plural, second person, third person and journal entries. It just worked. I liked the way it switched between POV. Often the point of view would not be clear, but in a way those chapters felt the most heartfelt.

It looks at what happened in Algeria from within the country, but yet from a distance at the same time. It still manages to feel so connected, so raw and heartbreaking. I thought this one was very cleverly written. You can feel the heartbreak and the pain for what happened to the country, how people were treated. And yet through that, you follow the story of Ryad as he comes to clear out the bookshop that had once belonged to Edmond Charlot, a quiet thread that runs throughout, interspersed by Charlot’s journal entries.

I thought this was a fantastic read. I don’t think it will be for everyone. Maybe it’s too quaint and too disjointed, but I think that’s what I loved about it. It does a great job of reminding and teaching about a piece of history that is too often forgotten or even unknown. For the people in Algeria it is a different story.

6 out of 7 stars


CAWPILE score: 8.7

  • Characters: 8.5
  • Atmosphere: 9
  • Writing Style: 9
  • Plot: 8
  • Intrigue: 9
  • Logic: 8
  • Enjoyment: 9.5

2 thoughts on “Book Thoughts: A Bookshop in Algiers (Kaouther Adimi)

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