THE TREE OF TORAJA COUNTRY
“What are the living? At first glance, it seems so obvious. Separating the living from the dead. Being among the living. Being alive. But what does being alive really mean? When I breathe and walk, when I eat, or dream, or urinate, am I fully alive? What’s the highest level of living?”
Philippe Claudel’s latest novel is to some extent his Grande Bellezza. A filmmaker half way through his life loses his closest friend who is also his producer, the funny, unsettling Eugène. Drifting between two glorious women, between the past and the present, amid memories of dearly loved faces and dazzling unexpected encounters, Kundera in a hospital café, Piccoli with his explosive laugh, the narrator considers “the place death has in our lives”. And so Eugène’s tomb becomes a promise of life, and we manage to escape melancholy in order to be reconciled with ourselves.
Philippe Claudel is the author of Grey Souls (Les Ames grises, winner of the 2003 Prix Renaudot and translated in more than 30 countries), Monsieur Linh and His child (La Petite Fille de Monsieur Linh, Stock 2005), Brodeck’s Report (Le Rapport de Brodeck, winner of the 2007 Goncourt des lycéens) and L’Enquête (Stock, 2010). He has directed four feature films, notably I’ve Loved You so Long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime) with Elsa Zylberstein and Kristin Scott Thomas, which won two César awards.