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Of Fangs and Talons

Nicolas Mathieu

5 Reviews

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Crime & mystery

The first novel by Goncourt-winning Nicolas Mathieu: a literary crime novel about class, poverty and the criminal underworld.


A literary crime novel of the new social order, where the white lower class blames their bosses, the Arabs, the rich, and the whole world at the same time... It is the story of a world that has come to an end. With a girl, a .45 Colt, and the snow.

A factory closes in the Vsoges, and nobody cares. Hundreds of people have been sacked, they're now unemployed, on benefits, their kids won't go to summer camp anymore. There's a couple of news items in the evening, and then basta.
But factories are full of dangerous people with nothing left to lose. Like Martel, the trade union guy who collects tattoos, or Bruce, the body-builder addicted to steroids. People who have the time and the bad idea to kidnap a girl on the pavements of Strasbourg and sell her to two big guns of the criminal underworld...

"[An] uncompromising portrait of a working class eaten up by the frustration and resentment of having been abandoned, and sinking into alcoholism and racism". -- Paris Match

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Praise for Of Fangs and Talons

  • PRAISE FOR AND THEIR CHILDREN AFTER THEM: 'Deeply felt . . . An exceptional portrait of youth - Irish Times

  • [A] page-turner of a novel . . . I couldn't put the book down - New York Times

  • Mathieu won France's prestigious Goncourt prize for this absorbing Nineties narrative set in a French valley community left stranded by the decline of industry . . . a multi-viewpoint panorama of thwarted aspirations, spiced with breathy sex scenes and nostalgic detail - Mail on Sunday

  • And Their Children After Them finds space for beauty, for tenderness, for hope . . . you might think of a Ken Loach movie with a soundtrack by Bruce Springsteen . . . an elegiac anthem - Financial Times

  • The plot, involving drug dealing and simmering violence . . . keeps you turning the pages. - Sunday Times

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Nicolas Mathieu

Nicolas Mathieu was born in 1978 in Epinal, a small town in north-eastern France. After studying history and cinema, he moved to Paris, where he worked variously as a scriptwriter, a news editor, a private tutor, and a temp at City Hall. His first novel, Of Fangs and Talons, won the Erckmann-Chatrian prize, the Transfuge prize and the critics' award at the Prix Mystere. His second novel, And Their Children After Them, was published to universal acclaim in 2018 and won various prizes including the most coveted prize in France, the Prix Goncourt. He lives in Nancy.

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