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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Golem 1: Magic Berber (series of 5 Golem Books)
by Marie-Aude, Lorris and Elvine Murail
Age Range: 12+
Twelve-year-old Majid and his fellow pupils of 8D live on the run-down Moreland
estate full of immigrant families. When Majid wins a top of the range New Generation BIT Computer his world is changed forever. Knowing little about computers he asks his English teacher, Hugh Mullins, to help him. Somehow, a game known as `Golem’ – where a warrior appears on screen – mysteriously manages to install itself on both computers. This is a highly addictive game, which becomes a real part of Hugh’s, Majid’s and his friends’ lives. Strange things start to happen – electrical powercuts, computers crashing, blue smoke that is seen emerging from Majid’s flat, not to mention the strange goings on in the basement of the tower block where he lives. Is Golem just an innocent game? or is there a hidden depth to it? Golem was intended as a way of passing on subliminal messages to all potential shoppers by B Corp, a supermarket conglomerate. Now the directors of B Corp want it back and are prepared to go to any lengths to get it.
This story is in the tradition of the all-action comic strip series popular in France, with much of the action taking place on a computer screen. This Golem series of cleverly written books by the Murail siblings, France’s most famous literary family, have been a great success in their native country.
Sarah Ardizzone (neé Adams) has done an outstanding job in translating the backslang used by young urban French people. She has successfully managed to transport this story from an Algerian community in France to a high-rise housing estate somewhere in Britain so that it will reach a whole new audience of UK readers. This set of tough, streetwise stories will appeal to young people who are keen on cyberspace and reluctant boy readers. It is essential to read the whole series - Golem 2: Joke,Golem 3: Natasha,Golem 4: Mr Williams and Golem: 5 Alias - though as they don’t stand alone well as individual novels.
(Outside In: Children’s Books in Translation, Milet, 2005)