Those Who Stay by Jean Michelin is a powerful and deeply human novel about the impact of war on soldiers fighting in distant countries, and what these men are like when they return. Wearing a mask of silence to avoid the expression of strong feelings for fear of losing control comes at a high cost. The story centres around a private investigation done by four soldiers when one of their unit is reported missing. Their adherence to the military doctrine based on mutual trust between leaders and those they lead is unshakeable, even when back home on civvy street. Those Who Stay also shows the detrimental effect of their arrivals and departures on the families, girlfriends and wives who stay behind; and the children growing up alone with their mother.
American Fugue is at once a fictionalized biography of one of the most famous musicians of his time, and his contemporaries; a historical novel; a disillusioned meditation on the decadence of the West; a series of philosophical reflections on love, family and intimacy (including some racy sex scenes); a powerful evocation of the ravages of Nazism, Stalinism and Capitalism; a comedy of manners . . . It’s all in there: ambition and power, money and influence, success and failure, lost illusions and existential depression, sex and betrayal.
“My name is Fatima Daas. The name of a girl from Clichy who crosses the tracks to get to school.”
An autobiographical first novel, The Last One tells the story of Fatima and her family. The confusing polarities between different worlds and cultures that are portrayed sparked an intense Media debate in France. Although based on true events and experiences, Fatima Daas changed certain aspects in order to be free to write what she wanted, and convey her feelings about specific events. Continue reading Review The Last One, Fatima Daas
Turf Wars is the second of Olivier Norek’s Captain Coste trilogy, set in the banlieues of Paris.
Norek has an unusual C.V. Born in Toulouse in 1975, he worked for a humanitarian charity in in the 1990s, and contributed to the re-construction of hospitals and refugee camps in Guyana and the former Yugoslavia. He then joined the French marines for two years, before becoming a policeman in 1997. After working in the police force in Paris for eighteen years, he started his fourth career: crime writer. To date, he’s published six novels and he was one of the writers for the sixth series of Engrenages (Spiral). Continue reading Review Turf Wars (2) Olivier Norek
The Last Days of Ellis Island by Gaëlle Josse @WorldEdBooks and Ellis Island: A People’s History by Malgorzata Szejnert @ScribeUKbooks offer an excellent complementary read, giving a different take on getting through the gateway to the Promised Land that was the United States a century ago.
Ellis Island in New York harbour remains the ultimate symbol of American immigration. It was the continent’s busiest inspection station for sixty years until it closed in 1954. Millions of immigrants went through an extensive and elaborate legal and medical vetting process when they disembarked: Jews escaping from political and economic oppression in czarist Russia and Europe; Italians escaping rural poverty; Poles, Hungarians, Czechs, Serbs, Slovaks and Greeks . . . along with arrivants from Syria, Turkey and Armenia. Approximately forty per cent of U.S. citizens today can trace at least one of their ancestors back to Ellis Island. Continue reading 2BooksReview The Last Days of Ellis Island, Gaëlle Josse & Ellis Island: A People’s History, Malgorzata Szejnert