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Hear Our Defeats

Laurent Gaudé | Translated by Alison Anderson

Hear Our Defeats tells the story of Assem, a French intelligence officer who is tasked with tracking down a former member of the US Special Forces who is suspected of drug trafficking during the War in Afghanistan. During his travels, he meets Miriam, an Iraqi archaeologist who is racing against time to save ancient artifacts across the Middle East from the destruction brought by ISIS.

Gaudé meditates on turning points in world history, weaving his reflections into the two gripping storylines, evoking Hannibal’s failed march on Rome and the burning of his fleet on the waters of the Mediterranean; Grant’s pursuit of the Confederates into rural Virginia; Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; and Emperor Haile Selassie’s swift retreat from Ethiopia.

Originally published by Actes Sud in 2016 with the title Écoutez nos défaites. Translation available from January 22.

Learn more about the book here.


Laurent Gaudé is a multi-award winning novelist and playwright. His first theatre show, Combat de possédés (1999), has been played in Germany and read at the Royal National Theatre. He is best known for La Mort du roi Tsongor (2003) for which he won the Prix Goncourt des lycéens and the Prix des libraires, and Le Soleil des Scorta (2004), honored by the Prix Jean Giono and the Prix Goncourt. He lives in Paris.

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