This elegant, haunting novel takes us deep into the world of bookstore owner Boualem Yekker. He lives in a country being overtaken by the Vigilant Brothers, a radically conservative party that seeks to control every element of life according to the laws of their stringent moral theology: no work of beauty created by human hands should rival the wonders of their god. Once-treasured art and literature are now despised. Silently holding his ground, Boualem withstands the new regime, using the shop and his personal history as weapons against puritanical forces. Readers are taken into the lush depths of the bookseller's dreams, the memories of his now-empty family life, his passion for literature, then yanked back into the terror and drudgery of his daily routine by the vandalism, assaults, and death warrants that afflict him. From renowned Algerian author Tahar Djaout we inherit a brutal and startling story that reveals how far an ordinary human being will go to maintain hope. Tahar Djaout (1954-93) was an Algerian novelist, poet, and journalist, and the author of twelve books, including Les vigiles, winner of the Prix Mediterranee. An outspoken critic of the extremism stirring his nation, he was assassinated by an Islamic fundamentalist group. The manuscript of this novel was found among his papers after his death.--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.