The Little Girl and the Cigarette by Benoit Duteurtre

The Little Girl and the Cigarette

Benoit Duteurtre

Set in a world where the Eurollar is the currency and cars cruise down Churchill Boulevard, the writing in this novel makes me feel rather queasy. Thought-provoking and very topical, two very different men live in a world where smoking is banned and young children rule their elders with an iron fist. One thing, however, does link them - the desire for a cigarette. A strange and interesting read, but a world I would rather read about than inhabit.


Thoughts like these are crossing my mind, this afternoon, in the fourth-floor bathroom of the municipal administration building where I've locked myself in to smoke a red Marlboro ('tar: 5mg; nicotine: .04mg; carbon monoxide: .5mg'). With my pants down, I drag happily on my cigarette and breathe the warm smoke deep into my lungs before exhaling. Last week, I finally succeeded in opening this sealed window, thanks to the screwdriver hidden in my pocket. This task took me several months, at the rate of a dozen or so minutes a day: I had to remove each screw, then scrape away the wood glue inch by inch, until the upright finally gave way. The secret smoker has to choose a well-ventilated area: although these tiny toilets don't have any smoke detectors, the smoke just has to go through the door to set off the hall alarm. So I always take the time to ventilate the place well and meticulously close the windows before I leave.
Up until last year, a few smoking rooms still existed in the confines of Administration City. Individuals who 'die prematurely' could be found there like outlaws, after they'd braved the scornful looks of their co-workers. But, ever since the children's nursery was extended to all the premises, ever since the kids become the privileged guests of this house, there's been no more question of tolerating the slightest risk of toxic smoke.

  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • For Your Own Good : The Anti-smoking Crusade and the Tyranny of Public Health by Jacob Sullum

Books with similar mood

The Other Child

Charlotte Link

Far North

Marcel Theroux

An Untouched House

Willem Frederik Hermans

Spill Simmer Falter Wither

Sara Baume

The Shepherd's Hut

Tim Winton

The Man I Became

Peter Verhelst

Burning Bright

Ron Rash

The Unlucky Lottery

Hakan Nesser

I'm Not Scared

Niccolo Ammaniti

So Lucky

Nicola Griffith

The Repentant Morning

Chris Paling

The Last Llanelli Train

Robert Lewis


Mick Kitson

East of Hounslow

Khurrum Rahman

Walk the Blue Fields

Claire Keegan

Dear Child

Romy Hausmann

Before the Coffee Gets Cold

Toshikazu Kawaguchi


Sam Guglani

The History of Bees

Maja Lunde


Gordon Reece

Cities without Palms

Tarek Eltayeb


Richard Bausch

From a Low and Quiet Sea

Donal Ryan

The Hired Man

Aminatta Forna

The Godless Boys

Naomi Wood

The Search

Maureen Myant

Mister Pip

Lloyd Jones

Purple Hibiscus

Chimamanda Adichie

The Second Rider

Alex Beer

Three Day Road

Joseph Boyden

Underground Time

Delphine de Vigan

Night Work

Thomas Glavinic


Chris Cleave

The Vanishing

Tim Krabbe

Telling Liddy

Anne Fine

The Orange Grove

Larry Tremblay

Gone to the Forest

Katie Kitamura

A Girl Returned

Donatella Di Pietrantonio

The President's Gardens

Muhsin Al-Ramli


Amit Majmudar

American Rust

Philipp Meyer

Season to Taste or How to Eat Your Husband

Natalie Young

The Bride from Odessa

Edgardo Cozarinsky

Astonishing Splashes of Colour

Clare Morrall

Blood Red Rivers

Jean-Christophe Grangé

The Well and the Mine

Gin Phillips

Double Vision

Pat Barker


Eva-Marie Liffner