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Grote dieven kleine dieven
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Grote dieven kleine dieven (original 2000; edição 2019)

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965222,489 (3.95)21
His eyes "shine with a glimmer of perpetual amusement"; his sartorial taste is impeccable; Ossama is "a thief, not a legitimated thief, such as a minister, banker, or real-estate developer; he is a modest thief." He knows "that by dressing with the same elegance as the licensed robbers of the people, he could elude the mistrustful gaze of the police," and so he glides lazily around the cafe´s of Cairo, seeking his prey. His country may be a disaster, but he's a hedonist convinced that "nothing on this earth is tragic for an intelligent man." One fat victim ("everything about him oozed opulence and theft on a grand scale") is relieved of his crocodile wallet. In it Ossama finds not just a gratifying amount of cash, but also a letter -- a letter from the Ministry of Public Works, cutting off its ties to the fat man. A source of rich bribes heretofore, the fat man is now too hot to handle; he's a fabulously wealthy real-estate developer, lately much in the news because one of his cheap buildings has just collapsed, killing 50 tenants. Ossama "by some divine decree has become the repository of a scandal" of epic proportions. And so he decides he must act. . . . Among the books to be treasured by the utterly singular Albert Cossery, his last, hilarious novel,The Colors of Infamy, is a particular jewel.… (mais)
Membro:WXC789
Título:Grote dieven kleine dieven
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Informação:Amsterdam Uitgeverij Jurgen Maas 2019
Colecções:A sua biblioteca
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The Colors of Infamy por Albert Cossery (2000)

Adicionado recentemente porOrderMustBe, Joop-le-philosophe, Yoxix, WXC89, WXC789, wxc777
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Mostrando 5 de 5
Een lterair hoogstandje met prachtige zinnen en mooie kromme redeneringen. Met uitgebreid nawoord van de vertaler. Uitstekende vertaling trouwens. ( )
  elsmvst | Oct 12, 2019 |
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: A delightful, deeply funny novel about the triumph of the perfect prankster — an elegant gentleman pickpocket in Cairo.

His eyes “shine with a glimmer of perpetual amusement”; his sartorial taste is impeccable; Ossama is “a thief, not a legitimated thief, such as a minister, banker, or real-estate developer; he is a modest thief.” He knows “that by dressing with the same elegance as the licensed robbers of the people, he could elude the mistrustful gaze of the police,” and so he glides lazily around the cafe´s of Cairo, seeking his prey. His country may be a disaster, but he’s a hedonist convinced that “nothing on this earth is tragic for an intelligent man.”

One fat victim (“everything about him oozed opulence and theft on a grand scale”) is relieved of his crocodile wallet. In it Ossama finds not just a gratifying amount of cash, but also a letter — a letter from the Ministry of Public Works, cutting off its ties to the fat man. A source of rich bribes heretofore, the fat man is now too hot to handle; he’s a fabulously wealthy real-estate developer, lately much in the news because one of his cheap buildings has just collapsed, killing 50 tenants. Ossama “by some divine decree has become the repository of a scandal” of epic proportions. And so he decides he must act. . . .

Among the books to be treasured by the utterly singular Albert Cossery, his last, hilarious novel, The Colors of Infamy, is a particular jewel.

My Review: Another weird little French novel, like the others I've reviewed over the years. Set in Cairo, written by an Egyptian-born French writer, this lovely work pokes ungentle fun at the well-documented foibles of the kleptocracy. Of particular interest to me was the revelation that honor was foisted on the poor by the rich in order to give them something that costs nothing, but will provoke them into spending hugely and warring indiscriminately.

Well! Blow me down and call me shorty! I've always suspected "honor" was some kinda con game.

As one would expect in a short French novel, the pleasures are more subtle and rely on the reader to winkle them out. Cossery wasn't one to revise and extend his remarks, as the politicos in Congress say; he believed laziness was a form of appreciative meditation, offering the lazy man the opportunity to see, really see, the beauties of the world and appreciate them appropriately. Material goods could never compete with the world's splendors. Time spent in offices, robbing the poor, was time never regained to be spent more productively and seductively in idleness.

Every character in this book has hold of a facet or two of this world-view. I think it should be spread far and wide, and made the height of fashionable aspiration.

But wait...isn't the materialism of current culture saying that very thing...? Erm...uh...gee.... ( )
1 vote richardderus | Oct 4, 2015 |
Albert Cossery died in 2008 at the age of 94 after living a life of ease afforded by inherited wealth. He was born in Egypt but lived in Paris since 1945 and wrote his novels in French. During his 60 year career he only wrote eight novels but I picture him slowly crafting each sentence to create the most astoundingly beautiful prose juxtaposed with the most biting satire, as is obvious in the following passage. This was my first book by Cossery but I will be lining up for more.

”Ossama was a thief; not a legitimate thief, such as a minister, banker, wheeler-dealer, speculator or real estate developer; he was a modest thief with a variable income, but one whose activities---no doubt because their return was limited---have, always and everywhere, been considered an affront to the moral rules by which the affluent live. Possessed of a practical intelligence that owed nothing to university professors, he had quickly come to learn that by dressing with the same elegance as the licensed robbers of the people, he could elude the mistrustful gaze of a police force that found every impoverished-looking individual automatically suspect.” (Page 8)

One day, while plying his trade among the wealthy businessmen of Cairo, Ossama lands a wallet containing a letter from a government official to a real estate developer concerning a recent tragedy that they both had colluded over and that resulted in the deaths of fifty unfortunate apartment dwellers. Ossama meets with a fellow thief to consult and they concoct a plan whereby Ossama’s future is forever secure.

But it’s not about the plot with Cossery. It’s all about the poetic language and the witty way in which he contrasts poverty and wealth, the powerful and the powerless. So between laughing out loud and sitting in stunned silence I made my way through this short but powerful book. His description of the teeming hordes in Cairo is another example of Cossery’s wonderful skill:

”Hordes of migrants had come from every province with preposterous illusions about that hive of activity, the prosperous capital, and they had latched on to the local population, forming an appallingly picturesque pack of urban nomads. In this riotous atmosphere, cars sped by, heedless of traffic lights, like machines without drivers, transforming any vague notion a pedestrian might harbor of crossing the street into an act of suicide. Along the neglected thoroughfares stood apartment buildings doomed to imminent collapse (the landlords had long banished from their minds any pride of ownership) and from balconies and terraces converted into makeshift lodgings flew the multihued rags of destitution like flags of victory.” (Page 6)

Luscious, isn’t it? And very highly recommended. ( )
4 vote brenzi | Dec 29, 2013 |
I became an Albert Cossery fan after reading Proud Beggars. While this novella, his last book, written in his late 80s, treads some of the same ground as that earlier novel, it was still a delight to read because of Cossery's wonderfully vivid satiric writing and his engaging portraits of people who live far outside the bourgeois life style. In The Colors of Infamy, Ossama, a professional thief plying the upper class regions of Cairo unexpectedly finds a letter detailing the corruption of a government official in a wallet he lifts. He then consults with his "professor," a master thief who is disguising himself to evade the police, and they in turn consult a journalist, recently released from jail and living in a mausoleum in the Cairo City of the Dead, to determine how to make best use of this letter. That's the plot.

But what this novella is really about, like the earlier work, is how the poor can live with dignity in a horrifically corrupt and brutal world. As Cossery writes at the beginning of the book, "Ossama was a thief; not a legitimate thief, such as minister, banker, wheeler-dealer, speculator, or real estate developer; he was a modest thief with a variable income, but one whose activities -- no doubt because their return was limited -- have, always and everywhere, been considered an affront to the moral rules by which the affluent live." The response of Cossery's characters to this world, perhaps romanticized and impractical, is to live a simpler life and find delight and amusement wherever they can.

I found it interesting to read this book, with its definition of who the real thieves are, after recently reading Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o's Devil on the Cross, which also characterizes business owners and government officials as the biggest thieves and robbers. While both works are satiric and pointed, Ngũgĩ''s is more bitter and political, while Cossery's is more light-hearted and ironic.
6 vote rebeccanyc | Jan 16, 2012 |
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His eyes "shine with a glimmer of perpetual amusement"; his sartorial taste is impeccable; Ossama is "a thief, not a legitimated thief, such as a minister, banker, or real-estate developer; he is a modest thief." He knows "that by dressing with the same elegance as the licensed robbers of the people, he could elude the mistrustful gaze of the police," and so he glides lazily around the cafe´s of Cairo, seeking his prey. His country may be a disaster, but he's a hedonist convinced that "nothing on this earth is tragic for an intelligent man." One fat victim ("everything about him oozed opulence and theft on a grand scale") is relieved of his crocodile wallet. In it Ossama finds not just a gratifying amount of cash, but also a letter -- a letter from the Ministry of Public Works, cutting off its ties to the fat man. A source of rich bribes heretofore, the fat man is now too hot to handle; he's a fabulously wealthy real-estate developer, lately much in the news because one of his cheap buildings has just collapsed, killing 50 tenants. Ossama "by some divine decree has become the repository of a scandal" of epic proportions. And so he decides he must act. . . . Among the books to be treasured by the utterly singular Albert Cossery, his last, hilarious novel,The Colors of Infamy, is a particular jewel.

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