The narrator of this book describes a series of life stories. From snippets and traces - texts, words, images - he weaves together a whole tale, filling the gaps, the ellipses. His specialty is stories of people who died a violent, collective death.
He was born in Vienna in 1933, and lives alone with his books and his music. Words are all that allow him to make sense of a fragmented world.
At the beginning of 1999, a woman comes to see him. Her daughter Aria has disappeared three years ago, leaving behind a few books, tapes, letters, as well as press cuttings, photographs and a series of dated notebooks. She was twenty-four years old.
Talks with the young woman’s mother as well as her partner, and reading the notebooks allow him to retrace and map out Aria’s life, form Paris to Venice, to Jerusalem and Afghanistan. Frails and ruptures appear through the testimonies, as well as evidence of a need to talk about a reality that seemed to escape her. Aria then turned to literature - in vain.
The narrator’s own story parallels his account of Aria’s life. His own disappearance takes form through his text – writing as a body of absence.
Born in Paris in 1978, Justine Augier has done humanitarian work involved with development projects in Afghanistan, amongst other places. She wrote Son absence, her first novel, in Jerusalem where she has been living for a year.
Au fil des rencontres avec la mère et le compagnon et des lectures, une toile chronologique et typographique de l’existence d’Aria se déploie. De Paris à Venise, de Jérusalem en Afghanistan se raconte la vie de la jeune fille. S’écrivent ses failles, son rapport à un monde traversé de fractures, son détachement, à la limite de l’absence, sa nécessité de dire et de raconter le réel, à travers les mots, la possibilité de la littérature. S’écrivent l’échec, le gouffre qui s’ouvre.
L’histoire du narrateur s’inscrit en miroir dans ce récit. Sa plume se mêle à celle d’Aria. Sa propre disparition, qu’il pressent, s’incarne dans les mots, qui seuls resteront, donnant corps aux absents.