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Arab Jazz

3.40  ·  Rating details ·  737 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Kosher sushi, kebabs, a second hand bookshop and a bar: the 19th arrondissement in Paris is a cosmopolitan neighbourhood where multicultural citizens live, love and worship alongside one another. This peace is shattered when Ahmed Taroudant’s melancholy daydreams are interrupted by the blood dripping from his upstairs neighbour’s brutally mutilated corpse.

The violent murde
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published February 5th 2015 by Maclehose Press (first published March 15th 2012)
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Average rating 3.40  · 
Rating details
 ·  737 ratings  ·  110 reviews

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Jul 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What an enjoyable read this was! Very interesting setting in one of the multiculti arrondissements of Paris. A neighborhood where you are curious about, but never visit. This neighborhood is boiling over with resentments, fanatical religious zeal of any sort of denomination and small and bigger criminals, which makes up for a rather toxic mix. At the same time, it is a relief to read that it is possible to keep yourself aside from all the turmoil if you go about your own business and not pay att ...more
Feb 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
"Everything is a dangerous drug except reality, which is unendurable"
----Cyril Vernon Connolly, an English intellectual, literary critic and writer

Karim Miské, a French-Mauritanian writer and director of French documentary films, penned his debut novel, Arab Jazz, a crime thriller set across the 19th arrondissement of Paris and New York, centered around drug trafficking, Salafist Muslims, Jews and Jehovah's witnesses.

Kosher sushi, kebabs, a second hand bookshop and a bar: the 19th
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This award-winning debut novel was published in 2012, but poignantly echoes real life events in the Paris in which it is set, especially after the Charlie Hebdo murders. Indeed, the magazine even receives a brief mention in the novel, as does the controversial comedian Dieudonne.

This is not the Paris of romance and history, but is firmly rooted in current events and reality – to be precise, the 19th arrondissement in a multi-cultural neighbourhood. Laura Vignole is an air stewardess for Air Fran
Jan 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sometimes, when reviewing books regularly there is an almost fixed template in your mind to construct your thoughts and feelings about a book. You provide an overview of the waxing and waning of a plot, the strength of the characterisation, the use of location and so on to formulate your critique. However, occasionally you are confronted with a book where you cannot resort to this more simplistic template, and even begin to question your own ability to find the words to describe your reading exp ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, crime
Arab Jazz is a delight. A woman is murdered and her spaced out downstairs neighbour is the prime suspect. Which is essentially the starting premise of many if not most crime novels.

With Karin Miske the novel swings into less trodden ground with fresh characters, genuinely funny moments, a giant love note to Paris - the grotty bits, and a plot that’s not half bad. Much like Fred Vargas without the tweeness.

Early on in the book one of the characters visit to ikea is described as “A war of moveme
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
After the Charlie Hebdo massacre, Karim Miské was praised for his prescience in portraying the dysfunctional immigrant youth of the 19th arrondissement in Paris who are prey to the kind of fundamentalist extremism of those responsible for the attack. In a January 2015 interview in The Independent, Miské comes across as a thoughtful and insightful man, “Arab Jazz” has won prizes as a “literary” detective thriller, and perhaps it is meant to be a parody of a corrupt, greedy society with distorted ...more
Nick Jones
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I am not sure I want literary ambition when I read a crime novel. I want a good story, interesting situations, an intriguing atmosphere and consistent characters – I don’t expect complex characters, just characters that are consistent and hold some sort of symbolic force. Arab Jazz seems to have been well liked in France and Sam Gordon’s English translation got least there was a positive review in The Guardian. But I didn’t really like it. In a way the story was ambitious, centred on ...more
Maria Beltrami
That France is a melting pot of races and religions, and that under this cauldron fire has risen to the point of causing a violent boil is demonstrated by recent story of Charlie Hebdo, but it is also shown by this original novel that stirs liberally in this cauldron to serve a strange but fun story, hilarious in fact, despite being a quite bloody noir, and with characters that would seem incredible if we do not see similar in the news.
The victim, the young hostess whose murder sparks the story,
Dec 04, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Police officers in Paris
Recommended to Ollie by: Allison
Karim Miské's debut novel is timely and has all the ingredients for a great crime novel. It's set in contemporary Paris, involves radicalised muslim youth and acts of terror, and it touches on drug dealing, mental illness and police corruption. Sadly, this is a disappointing read.

The novel starts out well enough, with a depressed and isolated young man, Ahmed, discovering the murdered body of his upstairs neighbour, a young woman who had once been a Jehovah Witness. The crime scene is set up in
Mar 15, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Anti-religious drivel combined with excessive foul language, sexual fantasising and filth - not for me. Abandoned at 44% - just at the point where the author gives us some profound insights into the toilet habits of our main character...

"Afterwards, he hoses down the inside of the toilet bowl with his urine to dislodge any skid marks."

Almost poetry, isn't it? I wonder how the great authors of the past ever managed to tell a story without letting us know about these crucial (despite being entirel
Mar 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, netgalley, islam
Two police detectives investigate an apparent hate crime in a rundown Paris neighborhood filled with restless young men and women, all potential prey to the users and abusers who lure them in with holy words and pretty blue pills called Godzwill.

The prose whirls and rambles and deftly captures the life of the damaged young Parisian Muslim who is suspected of murdering the young woman he might have loved, if only. Huddled in his book cave, Ahmed ventures out only to replenish his supply of the p
Marina Sofia
Jan 28, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
You don't read this book for the plot - you figure out pretty quickly what is going on and there aren't that many twists to subvert expectations. But it's got a great sense of atmosphere and some memorable characters (especially the shy, introverted, depressed Ahmed). And it asks important questions about youth and minority culture in France today. ...more
I found this quite a muddled book - it wants to be pulp fiction, it wants to explore religious fundamentalism in Paris, and it wants to be literature, all at once. In the end religions of all description get very much short-changed, which is ok as far as it goes, and often insightful, but still fairly one-sided. I was also thrown by the fact that so many of the backstories revolved around stints in mental institutions - there is an odd undercurrent of both blaming the victims and blaming their o ...more
Charles Kerns
A depressed, obsessional Paris immigrant investigated by a duo of PhD detectives, one floating off in the ozone. A nasty murder of the stewardess upstairs--too nasty for me. Followed by woman-hating obsessions of a Protestant sect, Brooklyn Hasidic Jews and Paris backstreet Muslims, not to mention a cop or two. Drug formulae, God-like little blue pills. Then the book levels off for a landing.
Not quite a book to enjoy, but one to get lost and hopeless inside.
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(read the english translation); been a minute since a book gripped me so immediately. extreme letter of recommendation.
Apr 09, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-books
Not sure what happened to my review but here it is again:

My thoughts:
Prophetic with hindsight of recent tragic events of the Charlie Hebdo murders in Paris by religious extremists, and with increasing tension surrounding religious extremist groups, Arab Jazz by Karim Miské (originally written two years earlier) is set in the 19th arrondissement of Paris, where the inhabitants live in, not so much, a multicultural melting pot as a seething bubbling cauldron of religious hatred which is about to b
Feb 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
Novel set in Paris (both Halal and Kosher…)

A murder mystery set largely in the 19th arrondissement of Paris – an area to the north of the centre, and a little off the main tourist map. A place where Islamists live alongside orthodox Jews. The two exist peacefully side by side, pretty much ignoring each other (except when some youths form a cross-cultural hip-hop group, or when – a little later in life – they join together in drug dealing activity…).

Laura, an Air France stewardess, is brutally an
Mish Middelmann
Here's another way for France to address its diversity, instead of arresting women for wearing the hijab. Dark and a bit melodramatic, Arab Jazz finds evil in a wide range from Jehovah's Witnesses to Hasidic Jews, from revolutionary rebbe's to bent cops to revolutionary Islamists. The author digs insightfully into the yin-yang of great idealism and ugly depredation in pretty much all of his characters.

He does this with a clear eye, speaking directly of matters of sex and drugs, family, identity
Jan 20, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

After the violent murder of Laura Vignole, her neighbour Ahmed Taroudant finds himself at the centre of the murder investigation. Ahmed has isolated himself from the world around him, preferring to be absorbed into the crime novels he buys from a local bookseller. After he is interviewed by the 2 detectives on the case, Ahmed finds himself drawn to the female inspector and so begins a great crime noir novel featuring a host of characters drawn from the streets of Paris and New York. This cleverl
Michael Livingston
An atmospheric and occasionally amusing crime novel, set amidst the multi-cultural neighbourhoods of Paris' North East. The plot is straightforward, but the characters (particularly the bewildered Ahmed and the two main cops) are compelling. The religious complexities of the area and of the second- and third-generation migrants that make up much of the cast add some depth. ...more
Nov 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not your standard mystery story. The 'mystery' was fairly plain to see to the reader, but I liked that it was different in setting and characterization than anything else I have read.

I'd read more of this author, for interest's sake and a change of pace.
Nov 24, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The 19th Arrondissement houses multiple ethnicities: a lower-working class neighborhood off the right bank of the Seine, traditionally the area houses those not native to France. With our protagonist Ahmed Taroudant is both the one who discovers a grisly murder, but the primary suspect. Unfortunately for him, his personal relationship with the victim, Laura Vignole, his familiarity with her upstairs apartment, holding a key and the tone of a religious themed murder all raise questions. In this c ...more
I went to some effort to track this debut novel down, based on rapturous newspaper reviews, and while the setting and multicultural cast are certainly timely, I'd hesitate to suggest that anyone else seek it out. It uses the crime genre as framework for a kind of pulpy portrait of religious intolerance and hypocrisy -- the title is a nod to James Elroy's Los Angeles crime novel White Jazz, with which is shares certain plot elements.

The story starts with the protagonist, a young atheist Moroccan
This book is the kind you would take to a cafe if you wanted to seem interesting. You would order a croissant and some French press coffee and hopefully make eyes at a hipster reading Ayn Rand in the corner.

That sounds snarky, and it is. But I actually quite liked this book (and yes, you can draw the necessary conclusions from that). It's the classic whodunnit - a brutal murder with some salacious details, a loser who is the go-to suspect, a tough-talking, soft-hearted cop. But it's set in Pari
Jul 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: borrow

Set in a super multi-culti part of Paris, a lethargic reclusive crime-noir reader is propelled into action when a young woman is brutally murdered. Initially it all seems to be about religion. There’s jehova’s witnesses, Hasidic Jews, Salafists, and in the small neighbourhood, where everyone seems to know everyone, this gives a brilliant little window in how life in certain neighbourhood in Paris might be.

Is this a standard crime novel, I wondered. A typically French writing style?
For the world
Apr 19, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: brace-2020
After the first few pages, I was excited with this book and Miské's writing. It was flowing, interesting, with a good touch of mystery. Around halfway, it started spiraling downwards and never recovered. Hasty, flat, with a number of plot holes (small but significant). Worst of all, everything dissolves so fast and illogically, in a way that it killed everything for me. This is all magnified becasue it's a noir, things must remain interesting or at least somehow realistic to the end. It feels li ...more
Bill Wallace
Mar 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I do love a book where the villains are religion and tradition. Fine example of neo-noir set in Paris among the immigrant communities of Jews, Moslems, and Jehovah's Witnesses. The narrative technique is impressive, head hopping among a cast of characters troubled by neuroses (at best) and several with a common taste for American crime fiction. It seems like a contrivance but it's also the main reason an American would read this book, right? So perhaps not so far fetched as it is metafictional. ...more
Ann Tonks
Jul 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Some of the reviews below do this book much better justice than I can. It was completely mesmerising from the first chapter when one meets Ahmed Taroudant, the neighbour of the murder victim. It reads like a murder mystery but its focus is really on the tragic impact of religion - Islam, Judaism, Christianity - on young people. It paints a rich picture of multicultural Paris in the 21st century. An unusual piece of story telling - poetic and powerful. A hope there's more work by Karim Miske to c ...more
Wendy Cosin
I found Arab Jazz intriguing at first - a murder mystery translated from French and set in primarily in Paris, with a diverse cast of characters: black, white, as well as Jewish and Muslim with varied levels of orthodoxy.

The detectives were likable and reasonably-well developed, as was Ahmed, the psychotic neighbor who discovers the body at the beginning of the book. I liked how characters drifted into reverie in the middle of action, which let the reader get to know them better.

However, when J
Jan 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. A first novel by a documentary film maker and has all making pd greta novelist in the making. I love the characters and the way the novel was progressed, I am guessing from the ending that the author will continue using the characters, especially the two detectives in future novel, I certainly hope so. His characters are very real and his location feel lived in especially the Paris locations. Highly recommended....
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