Reviews of the latest Brigitte Giraud, Maud Simonnot, Laura Poggioli, Pol Guasch, Priya Hein, Odile Verschoot…


Brigitte Giraud live fast

Flammarion, 208 pages, €20.

How to tell the unacceptable? How to find the words to say the brutal death – a motorcycle accident – ​​of the person you love? Brigitte Giraud has chosen to redo the film of the tragedy via short chapters. “If I hadn’t wanted to sell the apartment?” “if my grandfather had not committed suicide?” “if I had not visited this house?”, “if we hadn’t asked for the keys in advance?”, “if I hadn’t called my mother?”, if…, if… The process makes it possible to transform reality into fiction, to make it a material that the author kneads, stretches, shapes to try to understand what, twenty later, she is still struggling to understand when she is about to sell the house that caused the tragedy. Through this exercise and under the delicate pen of Brigitte Giraud, it is the figure of the missing man, Claude, which takes shape and also their years together. A nice way to materialize reality and engrave it forever on paper. AS

Maud Simonnot At the time of the birds

The Observatory, 150 pp., €17.

In 2008, the Channel Island of Jersey was rocked by a revelation: the island’s famous orphanage, which closed in the 1970s, was a place of physical and mental abuse. Children were abused, even killed. The narrator arrives in Jersey about ten years after these discoveries. Her father, whom she loves dearly, is devoured by an anguish that leans more and more towards distress. He always knew he had “stayed in an English orphanage before being sent to France in 1959 at the age of five.” Since he saw a documentary about this orphanage, “a dark apprehension” invades it. The narrator leads an investigation: did her father grow up in this place? If so, what happened to him? The novel intersects two temporalities: that of the investigation and the daily life of two orphans from Jersey in 1959. The nervousness of the narrator, delicate and worried about her father, echoes a steady writing that has tact. VB-L.

Laura Poggioli Three sisters

The Iconoclast, 247 pp., €20.

A woman dies every 40 minutes under the blows of her domestic executioner, according to figures from the Russian Interior Ministry in 2013. In 2018, a news item shook the whole society: three sisters had killed their father, an Armenian abuser and rapist. This case provided the matrix for this first novel, a real investigation into the situation of Russian women, equal to men socially but not in the intimacy of the home. Laura Poggioli when she was 20 years old had an unconditional love for Russia. Mitia, her Russian prince, humiliated and beat her. In the light of the affair of the three sisters, she wonders about the phenomenon of influence, the strange silence and the collusion of the authorities, and of the Armenian community. Three sisters is above all a wonderful document on the evolution of this society, from the violence of totalitarianism to the Putin years. N / A

Pol Guasch Napalm in the heart

Translated from Catalan by Marc Audi. The Crossroads, 240 pp., €19.

It’s a dystopia without place or time, a snow-white page that marks the entrance “the beginning of a stage of which we did not know the end.” Outside, a war with unknown roots involves men with shaved heads. The narrator, confined with his mother, counts the days, cultivates his garden and writes to a lover. “We only share one statement, Boris and I: tell each other our lives in our letters, find each other in the blue house and love each other like animals.” The two boys run away. “Advancing is always also giving up.” Brief titled chapters “the whisper”, “the promise” Where “infinity” draw landscapes from the end of the world. There arise some beautiful geysers: “my son, the fire is always in me: as if I had napalm in my heart”. First novel by a Catalan poet born in 1997. T.St

Priya Huh Riambel

Translated from English (Mauritius) by the author and Haddiyyah Tegally, Globe, 208 pp., €22.

There are the “ti lakaz” and the “great dimoun” and a ditch separates them. The former are the more or less mixed descendants of slaves, the latter those of the sugar families of Mauritius. The novel takes place today. Noémie is the daughter of a servant employed in a family of white Mauritians, in Riambel, by the sea. The young girl will believe that the social border can be crossed. But there are still Fantine’s destinies in these islands that are not very enchanted. And the beauty of nature is not enough to repair the slights. FF


Jean-Luc Nivaggioni The wrenching, the memory, the feeling

Leo Scheer, 112 pp. €16 (ebook: €7.99).

The object is hybrid. Jean-Luc Nivaggioni’s book is not really to be placed on the side of the novel. It is also not to be taken as a small autobiographical essay, nor completely to be read as a collection of poetry. Better: it is a bit of all three, a kind of autofictional poetic manual on the disintegration of the feeling of love where everything, in the succession of thoughts transcribed into prose, is a matter of movement. Between cities (the author lives in Paris, Berlin and São Paulo), between lovers, between memories, between emotions, between fucking and dancing. It is there in the transition, these comings and goings that we call living, that he finds his material. On the lack felt for an ex since “the great staircase of Berghain”the legendary club in the east of the German capital, in the midst of a pandemic, he writes: “In the harsh light, without the party, and without you, space and time were shrinking, as in my head the memory and in my heart the feeling.” Writing as a remedy and as a dynamic. In short, as sublimation. FB


Jean-Manuel Roubineau With closed fists. A history of ancient boxing

Pouffe, 416 pages, €30.

When one does not like boxing, it seems shameful that it could be called “noble art” – because one sees in it abjection or vulgarity rather than nobility, and “bloody jousting” rather than art. This is probably to ignore its history, its function and its rise, taken from Antiquity. If the human being is human because he has hands, which made him grasp the world and modulate it, does the fact that he has fists really say nothing about his humanity or his “humanization”? Lecturer in ancient history at Rennes-II University, author, among others, of Milo of Croton or the invention of sport (at Puf, 2016), Jean-Manuel Roubineau goes back to the very invention of boxing – or the “legend invented by Spartan soldiers wanting to practice parrying blows to the face” – in one of those magnificent books, full of analysis, stories and anecdotes that give the reader the impression and the jubilation of “learning everything”, especially what no one else knows. We “witness” many fights, of course – starting with the one between “the young hero Eurymedon” and the“experienced Melisseus” – but above all, we discover a complex world of rules and behaviors, techniques and practices that affect food, sexuality, the training of athletic bodies and the formatting of minds, the eroticization of “stature” muscular – aiming at the constitution of an archetype of male strength and beauty – social success, the violence of shows and the spectacularization of violence, the birth of a codified violence serving as“avatar to the lethal violence of war”the division between taboos, norms and transgressions, virtues and cheating, sanctions and rewards: a world that gives the ancient city, and sport, a certain image and in which the city – social life, if not life itself – Reflects itslef. RM

Odile Verschoot women in prison

Preface by Marie Dosé, Imago, 160 pp., €20.

Maybe it’s because the man, liveoften used force, screw, to carry out their exactions, submit and dominate, that the male gender is found in the majority in the institutions that sanction them by depriving them of freedom. Women constitute “a tiny part of the prison population”and seem the most able, during their detention, to undertake, whatever the offenses or crimes committed (rarely of a sexual nature), “a sustained reflection on their journey and on the deep springs of their violence”. Hospital psychologist in a prison environment, with twenty-five years of experience, Odile Verschoot has conducted numerous interviews with prisoners (at the Nantes remand center for women, here): “young girls who have just come of age, mothers living in cells with their babies, foreigners experiencing difficulty integrating…” Striking testimonies which show that when the requirements of justice (terms of detention) and health (psychotherapeutic care) are adapted and respected, the“emergence of a subjective individuation, hitherto failing” is possible. “In an ideal world where male-female parity would really reign, on the one hand, we would admit that women are not angels and men are not barbarians by essence of gender, and on the other hand, we would not think that ‘in terms of repression, but in terms of support adapted to the dysfunctions of each’. RM

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