The promise of Pisa


With undisguised contempt the man in the suit asked the dean: “They go here too … Moroccans, at this school?” The dean said that it isn’t a problem at all. He knew there was one in the graduating class. That was about it.

Until Sam enters the Lyceum.

At home, where Sam is called ‘Samir’, he struggles with his illiterate and poorly integrated parents who prefer that he says ‘salam aleikum’ rather than ‘good morning’. His brother is in jail for armed robbery and his sisters are working behind the counter at the supermarket. Sam, however, is determined to do vwo, the highest level of high school, and to immerse himself in his love of classical piano. Where his brother got the truckload of pianos, he’d rather not know.

Sam tries to maintain his place in the elite high school, but the prejudice, latent crime and incomprehension of his family continue to haunt him. Community centers, mosques and jet-set parties don’t mix well.

With a healthy dose of self-mockery, and a hint of criticism of first-generation immigrants to Holland, Bouzamour sketches the story of a striking elitist brat. The exceptionally cheerful and playful writing style makes The Promise of Pisa the picaresque novel of the year.

Original title:

Bouzamour - De belofte van Pisa
De belofte van Pisa

November 2013
288 pages
15,000 copies sold

Mano Bouzamour (1991) was born in Amsterdam. He now studies history and is a virtuoso on the piano. As a storyteller Bouzamour won the 2010 Rose Garden Festival. His debut novel, The Promise of Pisa is based on his own life.

Film rights sold!

Rights sold: Germany (Residenz Verlag), Latin America (ReyNaranjos)

English sample available

Press comments:

‘This admirable debut, pulsing with energy, snappy dialogue and urban slang, is sure to hit the spot with young readers.’ NRC Handelsblad

‘Hunger: that’s the defining quality of this debut.’ de Volkskrant