“In the shoes of…” Oscar Lalo, writer who shares his unconditional love for literature in “Le salon” | urban bible

Photo credit : Joachim Perez

VSach week, every Friday, Urban Bible asks 5 questions to an artist or cultural artisan in order to learn a little more about the person interviewed and to allow the reader to be in his shoes, the space of ‘a moment. Today, we chatted with the Swiss writer Oscar Lalo, whose third novel “Le salon” was recently published by Plon editions. Her personal love affair with literature was the creative starting point for this moving and contemplative book, where human psychology and the relationships between characters take center stage. We let you discover!

Oscar, you were once a lawyer, a filmmaker and a singer, each of those hats leading you to writing – be it pleadings, song lyrics or screenplays. When did you have the click for literature, and more specifically, for writing a first novel?

“At the age of five! Truthful. I started writing at that age and haven’t stopped since. At the same time, I was acutely aware that I had nothing to say (at least, that’s what I told myself to avoid having to face the refusal of a publisher – I then gave little credit to the past lives. ;)”

“So I embraced, as you recall, all sorts of professions, all related to writing. What better training than the profession of lawyer to learn how to write: a client tells you his story orally, you have to put it in writing and add some fictional elements to give him a chance to win!

“So I certainly lacked the courage to dare to use the text alone, without resorting to the legal formalism, the music or the image that accompanies the text. So there. One day, The broken tales wrote itself, literally before my eyes, in the making for far too long. I had to give birth to it.”

In this famous book published in 2016, you talk about child sexual abuse and the trauma it can leave, and in The race of orphans (2020), the memoirs of an old lady immerse us in disturbing secrets of Nazi Germany. Are the memories linked to childhood and the power of the unconscious driving forces of creation for you, in short?

“I start from the principle that we all have experienced trauma in early childhood and that it accompanies us, for better or for worse, throughout our lives. I’m talking about the term trauma at large. Having been adored by one’s mother or father (not to say suffocated), for example, is worth to some long and costly years of psychoanalysis…”

“I am especially interested in the power of the conditionings that are ours: we are rarely aware of the significance they have on our daily lives; I am therefore interested in it on a literary level, but also in the practice and teaching of meditation, which allows us to see things a little more clearly and, if we practice correctly, to get rid of them. Obviously, those that go back to childhood are the deepest, and therefore the toughest to uproot.”

On September 12, Plon editions unveiled your third novel entitled The living room. The narrator is a 39-year-old man who on a whim buys a one-euro edition of The Temptation of Saint Anthony by Gustave Flaubert: for him it was love at first sight with literature and a new perspective on life. Where did the inspiration for this story come from?

“When we consider the decades-long gestation of Unmade Tales, one could say that it is difficult to specify the date of conception of a literary text. This is not the case for The living roomthe design of which took place in Morges, Switzerland, during the festival Books on the quays in 2020 during the release of my second novel The Orphan Race.”

“A reader challenged me: “I read your first two novels, they are intense; for the third, wouldn’t you like to write us a love story?” I was destabilized to say the least, because many authors write love stories very well and convert them into bestsellers, and I’m clearly not one of them. However, I came home with this question as a challenge I wanted to take on.”

“The question then was: “What is my love story?” The obvious answer arose: the love of literature and the booksellers who convey it. But it was out of the question for the approach to be academic. So I found an angle that seemed original to me, which could be summarized as follows: “When a hair salon becomes a literary salon.” This has been my guiding thread throughout the writing of the Living room.”

Throughout the pages, we witness the evolution of the narrator in his own personal journey, but also an interesting triangle through the exchanges and the relationship that the interested party establishes with, on the one hand, the bookseller, and on the other hand. another, the hairdresser. How did you approach the work of creating the psychological profiles of these characters?

“I needed a main protagonist free of any literature. It’s terrible to say, but just look around. A fortnight ago, I was invited to lunch with friends, and their twenty-year-old son came to eat with us and approached me in the following way: “I’m glad you’re here; I would like you to recommend a book because I have never read one. So I had before me, in flesh and blood, a paroxysmal version of my protagonist.

“The character of the hairdresser was inspired by Fabrice Lucchini (who started his life as a hairdresser), because I wanted to break the codes in force which suppose that a passionate relationship to literature is only the prerogative of some. I also wanted, and this is not contradictory with what I have just written, to invest in a place that is rarely associated with literature and even less with the classics. Except that unlike Fabrice Lucchini, the Fabrice of Living roomif he has a real passion for literature, does not have such a fluid understanding of it and stumbles on Flaubert, which gave me the opportunity for a misunderstanding that would feed the plot.

“As for the bookseller, who has become in a way the main character of the novel as he is endearing, he is the result of the merger of two people (a bookseller and a French teacher). It also represents the absolute antidote to Amazon insofar as, devoid of an algorithm, it will recommend a book to you that no artificial intelligence, however artificially intelligent it may be, would have been able to advise you.

“In this, he summons, and it is fortunate, what we have left of humanity in a world of brutes.”

And if you were asked what subject you would like to tackle in your fourth novel, what would be your answer, there, tit for tat?

“Meditation. She also made a very subdued entry into The living roomsince each of my novels, often as discreetly as possible, announces the one that will follow…”

To discover our previous chronicles “In the skin of…”, visit labibleurbaine.com/nos-series/dans-la-peau-de.

*This article was produced in collaboration with Interforum Canada.

In the shoes of… Oscar Lalo writer who shares his

Mathilde Recly

Word coordinator and stylist

Between fashion and music, his heart swings! Always creative, Mathilde likes to play with words. In fact, she handles them with finesse to challenge the reader and share her two great passions: culture and style.

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“In the shoes of…” Oscar Lalo, writer who shares his unconditional love for literature in “Le salon” | urban bible

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