“Ninette of Sin Street” released (Co-edited by Sarah Abrevaya Stein and Lia Brozgal)
Published in Tunis in 1938, Ninette of Sin Street is one of the first works of Tunisian fiction in French. Ninette’s author, Vitalis Danon, arrived in Tunisia under the aegis of the Franco-Jewish organization the Alliance Israélite Universelle and quickly adopted—and was adopted by—the local community. Ninette is an unlikely protagonist: Compelled by poverty to work as a prostitute, she dreams of a better life and an education for her son. Plucky and street-wise, she enrolls her son in the local school and the story unfolds as she narrates her life to the school’s headmaster. Ninette’s account is both a classic rags-to-riches tale and a subtle, incisive critique of French colonialism. That Ninette’s story should still prove surprising today suggests how much we stand to learn from history, and from the secrets of Sin Street. This volume offers the first English translation of Danon’s best-known work. A selection of his letters and an editors’ introduction and notes provide context for this cornerstone of Judeo-Tunisian letters.
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