(To be published in English August 2015.)
An interesting book, certainly a challenging book. The author was quite young, only 23 years old, when he wrote this, his first book that led eventually to him receiving the Nobel Price for Literature.
Patrick Modiano starts with a little story which could be called a joke if it wasn't so sad:
"In June 1942, a German officer approaches a young man and says: 'Excuse me, monsieur, where is the Place de l’Etoile?' The young man points to the left side of his chest. - A Jewish History". The young man is, of course, alluding to the star of David that was required to be worn by all Jews rather than the famous place in Paris.
Then he carries on talking about his protagonist, Raphaël Schlemilovitch and his way of surviving or not surviving the holocaust. It took me a while to realize what he was doing. He is living the lives of many and has an almost magic realistic but certainly an immensely sarcastic style in describing this. We meet many famous Jews and non-Jews who have made history both past and present in his stories.
I don't know whether this is the main book why the author was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature and whether this is a typical novel by him but I certainly would not classify it as an "easy read". Still, if you are interested in this history, you might enjoy it.
From the back cover: "In June 1942, a German officer approaches a young man and says: 'Excuse me, monsieur, where is the Place de l’Etoile?' The young man points to the left side of his chest."
Patrick Modiano received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014 "for the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life-world of the occupation".