Rights sold to : Germany (Verlag Klaus Wagenbach), China (Jilin Publishing Group)
There is no trace of anything there now. Tons of sand have been poured in, swings screwed into place, trees planted and a carefree attitude decreed. But memory weaves its own plot. Pathways snake. The ground makes waves. The slide is topped with a tower that no longer watches over anything. Beneath the sand in this Parisian square, lie the dust and secrets of a women’s prison. The Petite Roquette, destroyed in 1973. Everyone wanted to forget about it. Except for Angèle.
No one ever told her she was born here, somewhere under these swings, on 16th November 1967, a quarter of an hour before lights out. But her mother has just died. Helena Danec, 1945 - 2007. A grim, silent woman. She leaves behind letters received in prison, an old newspaper article about her trial, and the name of the man she loved.
So the past is just waiting to erupt, to make sure certain things are heard, the vestiges of love, the beauty of a rebellious era and the power of music. It wants explanations, probing as it takes on different voices; Angèle’s voice, her grandmother Mila’s, the voice of a young journalist who knows a great deal more about it than he wrote at the time, and even the voice of the man who ran away. They all tell Helena’s story. Reveal her suffering. Their suffering.
With Their Suffering, Judith Perrignon weaves a novel from a variety of different writing processes. Letters, small ads and classic narrative relate people’s fates without ever trying to attribute blame or courage.
Having worked as a journalist on Libération for many years, and now a contributor to XXI and Marianne, Judith Perrignon has worked her way steadily towards literature. She has borrowed from history with C’était mon frère (L’Iconoclaste, 2006), an account of the six months between Vincent Van Gogh’s death and his brother Theo’s; written with co-authors, Mauvais Génie with Marianne Denicourt (Stock, 2005) and L’Intranquille with Gérard Garouste (L’Iconoclaste, 2009); and worked on the threshold between journalism and theatre in La Nuit du Fouquet’s with Ariane Chemin (Fayard, 2007). Their Suffering is her first novel.
Alors le passé ne demande qu’à surgir, qu’à faire entendre les vertiges de l’amour, la beauté d’une époque révoltée et la puissance de la musique. Il réclame des explications, il cherche et emprunte toutes les voix ; celle d’Angèle, celle de Mila sa grand-mère, celle d’un vieux journaliste qui en sait beaucoup plus long que ce qu’il avait écrit, et même celle de l’homme qui s’est enfui. Tous racontent l’histoire d’Helena. Son chagrin. Leurs chagrins