Red River, Louisiana. Dana is driving, contemplating her life as a single mother. Marcus dreams about leaving, Jonah about the champions and trophies that keep his fears at bay. Deborah’s mind and body are brimming with the fact that she has just made love for the first time. Little Vickie doesn’t utter a word as she sits on granny Lee’s knee, while granny Lee is haunted by the deceptive calm of the scenery and by her own violent memories and the pride of past struggles that she sees repeated in different forms in the children’s eyes.
They are just a pinpoint on a road edged with cotton fields. But the voices of a vast American experience.
They have headed down to the river for a picnic as they do almost every day because it’s so hot in summer in Louisiana. They left after the police raided the house, turning the place upside down and strip-searching Marcus, the eldest son. They left in a state of shock, huddled together in the car. When they reach the Red River, the older kids threw themselves jubilantly into the water. They never came back out.
This book is inspired by an actual event in Shreveport, northern Louisiana, in August 2010. Six teenagers drowned before their loved one’s eyes. They all tried to save each other. None of them could swim.
Why can’t black people swim? They discussed on the radio the following morning...
Judith Perrignon worked as a journalist for Libération for a long time, and is now a contributor to the Le Monde magazine and to XXI. She has written several books, including C’était mon frère (L’Iconoclaste, 2006), L’Intranquille, co-written with Gérard Garouste (L’Iconoclaste, 2009) and Les Chagrins (Stock, 2010).