97,196 Words: Essays

Farrar. Nov. 2019. 304p. ISBN 9780374900465. $28. LIT
French novelist (Lives Other Than My Own), journalist (The Adversary), and filmmaker (All Our Desires) Carrère, although widely popular in Europe, is relatively unknown in North America. This collection may help remedy that continental distortion by offering translations of 18 articles selected from the more extensive French edition (2016), with two additional pieces that do not appear in that original volume. Eschewing the journalist’s traditional perspective of objectivity, Carrère is an active participant in his narratives. Intensely realized and evocative reports capture the last surviving prisoner of World War II (“The Lost Hungarian”), Russian extremist Eduard Limonov (“The Last of the Possessed”), and a man who for 17 years pretended to be a doctor working for the World Health Organization (“The Romand Case”). Threatened with exposure, he murders his wife and two children, sets fire to the house, and shoots himself, yet manages to survive. Other selections include a sardonic snapshot of the world’s “movers and shakers” (“Four Days in Davos”) and an incisive, prescient piece on France’s president (“Orbiting Jupiter: My Week with Emmanuel Macron”).
VERDICT A compelling collection, best suited for sophisticated readers up-to-date on their current affairs, and academic audiences.

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