Published to wide critical acclaim in France,Badawi is Mohed Altrad’s heartrending debut novel, inspired by the author’s own narrative arc from Bedouin orphan to engineer and finally billionaire businessman.
In the Syrian desert, a young boy watches as his mother dies. She was a repudiated woman, abandoned by the boy’s powerful father, leaving Maïouf to his scornful grandmother. Though the Bedouin tribes have stopped their centuries-long travels across the dunes—their tents long since converted into sedentary shacks—Maïouf’s grandmother wants him to carry on tradition as a shepherd. But from the first time he sneaks off to the white-walled schoolhouse to watch the other children learn, Maïouf envisions a different future for himself. This is one extraordinary child’s story of fighting for an education, and a life, he was never supposed to have, from a tiny desert village to the city of Raqqa, from the university halls of Montpellier on to the oil fields of Abu Dhabi. But is a life of exile the one he wants? Can a child whose name means ?the abandoned one” ever make a home for himself? With each step forward, he feels the love of his youth—a steadfast young Syrian woman named Fadia—and the shifting, haunted sands of his native village pulling him back toward the past he thought he had left behind.
Mohed Altrad was born into a Bedouin tribe in Syria. After earning a PhD in computer science at the University of Montpellier and working for the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, he founded Groupe Altrad, a world leader in the concrete and scaffolding industry, and was named the 2015 EY World Entrepreneur of the Year. He has published three other novels in French,L’Hypothèse de Dieu,La Promesse d’Annah, and the forthcomingLa Reconstruction from Actes Sud.
?Mohed Altrad’s debut novelBadawi begins in the Cold War?era Middle East, where the Bedouin tradition of a nomadic life struggles against modernity . . . In this tale of a boy caught between worlds, Altrad brings a sparse, lyrical quality to his prose that at times verges on the poetic . . . With its focus on the themes of abandonment, loss, success, and redemption among Syrians at home and abroad, the novel sheds light on the refugee crisis that has dominated headlines over the past two years . . . Necessary.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Badawi is less a celebration of rags-to-riches success than a story about the pain of being caught between two worlds."?Forbes
?Poetically depicts a Bedouin boy’s extended coming of age and the uneasy navigation of his transition from provincial Syria to the West.”?Publishers Weekly
?With precision, beauty, and fierceness, Mohed Altrad tells the story of a young Bedouin setting off to conquer life . . . A fine book . . . From the beginning, one notes the fresh style, which gives illumination to this poor boy’s fate . . . A subtle tension takes hold in these pages, a pregnant atmosphere . . . And so it is that we’re taken in by the story of Maïouf, launched along his amazing trajectory.”?La Marseillaise (France)
?French literature has been enriched by its first Bedouin writer.”?Entreprendre (France)
?A book built on elusive sands and quiet suffering, filled with the flavors of the Middle East and modesty that masks emotion, like heavy damask . . . A good novel.”?Midi Libre (France)
?Accessible to all.”?Le Monde (France)
?This debut novel, a story of learning, written with simplicity and modesty, rings incredibly true: indeed it seems imbued with the experience both rich and painful of Mohed Altrad, a Syrian who has been settled in France for a long time, of living in exile.”?Notes Bibliographiques (France)