Breaking News in Books, December 2022

Odile Nicoloso’s Favourites

BLANC by Sylvain Tesson - Ed .Gallimard 2022

Sylvain Tesson, accompanied by a mountain guide and another friend, embarks us on a ski raid, through the Alps, from Menton to Trieste, at the rate of 3 weeks to a month per year, from 2018 to 2021. The pandemic did not succeed in disrupting!
It is a journey strewn with pitfalls, to the point that the author will give each evening a score out of 5 to pain, anguish and fatigue. It is a daily story that could seem monotonous if it did not include literary references, the opportunity to evoke Rimbaud or Stendhal or to learn about the history of the regions crossed with references to Napoleon or the Habsburgs.
This challenge is also a way for the author, who is recovering from a serious accident, to go to the end of his physical or mental possibilities, an inner experience that allows him to return to essential things. A fire, a soup and a spartan bed suffice to escape the world of selfies and hyper consumption.

by Pat CONROY (American writer)

Pat Conroy has the art of storytelling and imagination, the love of nature, like many American writers. This family saga, which takes place largely in Southern Carolina, gives rise to magnificent descriptions and reproduces with talent, the atmosphere and spirit of this southern part of the United States.

It is a family story, but also a tragedy for two brothers, Tom and Luke and their sister Savannah. They suffered during childhood their father’s violence and the lack of empathy of their mother.

These siblings will have trouble building their lives. The psychological analysis is very fine. One of the characters in the novel is a psychiatrist. Present throughout the story, she asks Tom to tell the story of the family, in order to save their sister Savannah, who has become a famous writer, from madness. Despite the evocation of painful memories, Tom, the main hero, always shows humor, probably not to sink himself in despair.

A beautiful novel.

by Jonathan COE (British author).

Who has not looked at old photos of strangers or family? Who has not wondered what were the lives of these people who have disappeared forever and who now exist only on paper? What were their personalities, their professions, their aspirations? Were they happy?

In his novel Jonathan Coe tells the story, through a selection of family photos, of three generations of women, from the 30s to the 80s. Did these women, whose stories are often tragic, influence the fate of those who followed? Each of them decided to choose a trajectory, a goal, a project, a passion.

We note in this beautiful novel, written with great sensitivity and poetry, the importance of maternal love, which when it is not provided gives birth to fragile characters.

by AKIRA Mizubayashi
Booksellers’ Prize 2020. Editions Gallimard

In 1938 in Tokyo, Yu, an English teacher and amateur violinist, was arrested in front of his eleven-year-old son, Rei, in the middle of a musical rehearsal with three of his Chinese students who had remained in Japan despite the Sino-Japanese War. Rei will grow up without her father, with two particularly haunting memories from that day: the broken paternal violin and the vain attempt to intercede by an officer named Kurokami who loved music.
Rei will then devote his life to violin making and the resurrection of his father’s destroyed violin.
This novel is written in impeccable French by a native Japanese, to the rhythm of the music on which the author knew how to put words. The fact that this Japanese author writes directly in our language, which he has completely assimilated is remarkable.


Odile Nicoloso