Not far from the Sea of Galilee in Israel, old Stepan lives with his dog in an isolated house near the woods. He writes almost every day to his son Yankel, who is hiding on the far side of the world because many years ago he killed an Arab on the road to Beit Zera. Stepan describes his lonely life and reveals his hopes of coming to visit when he has enough money.
For a while now, a mysterious teenager has emerged from the woods some evenings, and has sat with Stepan on the veranda and grown fond of his dog.
Hubert Mingarelli uses subtle, poignant flashbacks, dipping into Stepan’s son’s past revealing that he killed with no other motive but fear. We see how his father hid him and supported him until he could arrange his escape by sea.
The author also reveals some episodes from Stepan’s younger days, when he inspected Palestinians’ papers at a frontier post and had feelings of shame, hatred and fear. Some of these stories and episodes haunt the old man to this day.
But Stepan now needs to make a serious decision: he wants to kill his dog because she’s grown too old. As he confronts his own sorrow, he understands the enigma of this teenager and his twilight visits.
Hubert Mingarelli is the author of an acclaimed and frequently translated body of work. He has published nearly a dozen novels and collections of short stories, including Quatre soldats (Seuil), winner of the 2003 prix Médicis. His last novel, L’homme qui avait soif, was published by Stock in 2014 and won the prix Landernau and the prix Louis-Guilloux.
Depuis quelque temps, un adolescent mystérieux lui rend visite et s’attache peu à peu à la chienne. Livre de la paternité et de la transmission, il aborde la question de la séparation, celle d’un père et d’un fils mais aussi celle des peuples qui vivent avec les fautes commises par leurs aînés. Et dit, à hauteur d’homme, la vie quotidienne éprouvée par le conflit israélo-palestinien.