Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fresh air from France

Lucy Dallas' wonderful review of five French literary novels published recently gives a enticing flavour of a parallel universe; so different from the stifling conservatism of the British scene. I wonder what the Booker committee would make of Louise Desbrusses's Couronnes, boucliers, armures? It tells the story of two sisters, neither of whom are named (which is a fine start):
The novel is structured round three main episodes ... during the course of a large family celebration. The narrative voice hovers around the two sisters and captures their thoughts; the language is richly worked and dense. Desbrusses inverts word order and uses repetition and rhyme, which gives the text an almost poetic quality. The claustrophobic, hostile nature of the family's obsessions and prejudices is revealed little by little...
The central subject of each of the ten chapters of another of the novels is "a discarded shoe". As the reviewer says: It may take only two hours by train from London, but Paris is still a world away.

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