BRUNO, CHIEF OF POLICE by Martin Walker
Written in 2008 by journalist and historian Martin Walker, this novel is a murder mystery set in provincial France. The victim is an elderly North African, who not only fought in the French army, but won the Croix de Guerre for his efforts. The investigation “opens wounds from the dark years of Nazi occupation” and even this “seemingly perfect corner of la belle France is not exempt from [its] past”. Throughout the novel, there is much discussion of the topics we studied in class last semester. There is mention of the banlieues violence, racism, religious conflict in a society that prides itself on its laïcité and so on. The solution of the murder, however, reveals an entirely new twist in the history we studied. I don’t know how to hint at it without ruining the novel but it totally blew my mind. And the way that Bruno, the local chief of police deals with the shocking denouement is also excellent food for thought.
Has anybody read it?? And if anybody is looking for a light read this summer, please please please pick this up so I can hear your thoughts about it! It’s not particularly satisfying on a literary level, but it brings to light a new, staggering dimension in Franco-Algerian relations.
Hors la Loi by Rachid Bouchareb
Back in March, I posted about the film Indigènes. Bouchareb’s new film Hors la Loi was shown at Cannes this year and met with great controversy. French war veterans, pieds noirs and right-wing politicians protested its screening, accusing the movie of being biased against France (its portrayal of the 1945 Sétif massacre seems to have been particularly offensive). Audiences were frisked going into the theatres etc. I’m dying to see it but haven’t heard anything about mainstream distribution…has anybody seen it or read anything about it? I hear firsthand that it is just as beautifully shot as Indigènes but a review in The Telegraph says that “depth and complexity are being flattened in the pursuit of accessibility”.