Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Unforgivable, by Philippe Djian

Djian’s spare and eloquent literary novel, translated smoothly from the French by Cameron, won the 2009 Prix Jean Freustié and is currently being filmed by French director André Téchiné . In just over 250 pages, Djian manages not only to draw a fascinating portrait of the main character, author Francis, but also to sketch his family members, including his current wife; his daughter, an actress and addict, and her banker husband; and their silent twin daughters. All are caught in the backlash of a family in conflict. Djian chronicles Francis’ breakdown after his daughter disappears and the effects that the tragedy has on the entire family. Powerful and moving, Djian’s story is both a thriller and a psychological study; the narrative moves back and forth in time as the current tragedy reminds Francis of the deaths of his first wife and elder daughter. Suggest to readers who enjoy spare literary novels that reveal depth of character while unfolding a compelling plot. --Jessica Moyer

A long journey of doubt, of obsession, and, above all, of setbacks and blows. Economic prose . . . and very sharp. Djian's language rings true.” Métro

Djian has the genius to succeed in two genres at once, the genre of the intimate diary . . . and the ?sea, sex, and sun' genre, stormy at times. He writes panoramically, wide-screen, the seaside under a telescope, Californian sky, the angle of the camera well-chosen between the lawn and the garden path . . . Unforgivable is the account of a misanthropic charmer . . . you won't be bored for a second.” Le Point

“Djian, here at the height of his talent, is capable of giving life to the sixty-year-old Francis, at once violently egocentric and infantile, engaging and unreasonable . . . a profoundly thoughtful novel . . . the minute examination of parent-child relations, the theme of forgiveness and of mercy, are only at the surface of a much larger aesthetic and ethical ambition: to detail the craft of life and love . . . remarkably well done.” Télérama

Philippe Djian [delivers] a beautiful exercise of self-deprecating humor . . . Various reflections [on] paternity, on writing, on relationship erosion, and on aging, [Unforgivable] treats serious subjects . . . with seriousness but without taking itself too seriously.”

Philippe Djian has no equal, amongst French authors, as the interrogator of the relationships that bind human beings together . . . it is this humanity—tackled head-on in all its complexity—that draws him close to the great Anglo-Saxon writers. Djian is incontestably the most American of French writers.” Vogue (France)

[Djian's] imagination has rarely been as fertile . . . a reflection on the way literature ingests the whole life of an author. That, for Djian, is surely true.” Livres Hebdo

[Unforgivable] is a vertiginous fall . . . [using] flashbacks, a host of dilapidated secondary characters, country roads, and stylistic brainwaves . . . Unforgivable resembles its author: a dark and disquieting gaze, strong nerves . . . and an irresistible charm.” Elle

[Unforgivable] is impossible to put down.” Libération

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