Publication Date: July 13, 2010
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A powerful and moving novel about the ravages war and the need to tell the truth, even in the face of adversity.
After the close of a great war, a mysterious stranger arrives in a small European village. He is an artist and he begins sketching the villagers, showing the painful reality of the crimes and betrayals the war left in its wake. Consumed by distrust, the villagers conspire and murder him. The authorities commission Brodeck, a timid, low-level bureaucrat, to write a report that essentially whitewashes the incident. Brodeck agrees to write the official account, but he simultaneously sets down his version of the incident in a parallel narrative, which interweaves his own horrific experiences as a prisoner of war, the truth about the stranger’s disappearance, and the dark secrets the villagers have fought fiercely to keep hidden.
Philippe Claudel is the author of many novels, among them By a Slow River, which was awarded the Prix Renaudot and the Elle Readers' Literary prize, Brodeck, which won the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, and La Petite Fille de Monsieur Linh. Each of these novels have been translated into more than thirty languages. Claudel also wrote and directed the film I've Loved You So Long starring Kristin Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein, which opened in movie theaters in the United States in the fall of 2008 and in thirty other countries around the world.
"Arrives like a fresh, why-haven't-we-known-him discovery, revealing Philippe Claudel
to be as dazzling on the page as he is on the screen."--The New York Times
“Extraordinary. . . . [A] modern masterpiece.”—The Independent, London
"A haunting, intensely claustrophobic allegory about intolerance, trauma and guilt."--San Francisco Chronicle
“A layered recollection of wartime crimes, atrocities, cowardice, and betrayal.”—The Boston Globe
“Claudel’s insightful prose, translated gracefully by John Cullen, renders the tale both literary and deeply philosophical.”—Washington City Paper
"This is a remarkable novel, all the more so because this account of man's inhumanity to man, of coarse and brutal stupidity, of fear and surrender to evil, is nevertheless not without hope. Brodeck survives because, despite all he has experienced, he remains capable of love. It is also beautifully written."—The Scotsman
“This novel, like the brothers Grimm fables, is full of terror, horror, and beauty and wonder.”—Publishers Weekly
"Philippe Claudel is at the peak of his art as a storyteller and portrait-painter."
"It is a relentless, uncomfortable book that achieves a beauty of its own through Claudel's deft writing and passionate commitment to truth.”—The Times, London