Rights sold to: Italy (Ugo Guanda) and Romania (ART).
Yitzhok Gersztenfeld was born in Warsaw in 1904, the last in a family of nine children. He is the fairest one, the gentle, silent one. He lives in the Jewish district, where there are few jobs and even less money. He loves this life yet he will have to leave and, like the little Itsik, become a bird.
He has to do it for the love of Maryem, who wants an easier life. He goes to Berlin, where his eldest brother heads a textile workshop. Then he flees to France, and works in the mines before moving to Paris where he has relatives. In the capital city he at last can settle with Maryem, have children and start a knit-work manufacturing business. But History catches up with them. The Munich agreement. The invasion of the Sudetes. The Crystal Night. Then the armistice. Danger coming closer. When Yitzhok is summoned by the French authorities in 1941, he goes, and is taken to the Pithiviers camp. He obtains a leave but does not flee: he goes back to the camp as he has promised to. On June 24th he climbs into a train that takes him to Auschwitz. He will never come back.
Yitzhok’s story belongs to a past that remains open, like a wound that does not heal. His tale helps us to understand a multitude of other fates, rendered anonymous by the grand scheme of History. Thanks to Pascale Roze’s beautiful book, their memory remains alive and profoundly moving.
Pascale Roze was awarded the Prix Goncourt in 1996 for her first novel, Le Chasseur Zéro. She has published Un homme sans larmes (2005) and L’eau rouge (2006) at Stock.
Pour Myriam, qu’il aime et qui préfère une existence moins rude, il part pour Berlin où son frère aîné dirige un atelier de confection. Puis il s’enfuit vers la France, travaille à la mine avant de gagner Paris où les siens l’accueillent. Dans la capitale il peut enfin fonder une famille avec Myriam et un atelier de tricot. Mais l’Histoire gronde. Accords de Munich. Invasion des Sudètes. Nuit de cristal. Armistice. Le danger se rapproche, si inconcevable. Lorsque Itzhak est convoqué par les autorités françaises en mai 1941, il ne se dérobe pas. Il est emmené au camp d’internement de Pithiviers. Lorsqu’il obtient une permission de sortie, il ne fuit pas non plus. N’a-t-il pas promis de revenir ? Le 24 juin il monte dans un train qui le conduit à Auschwitz. Il n’en reviendra pas.