Lives Other than My Own

Emmanuel Carr%C3%A8re, trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale. Holt, $26 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9261-5
Carrère (The Adversary) somewhat smugly asserts himself, in this autobiographical novel, as a puppeteer of grand emotions, evoking with a merciless hand incredible sadness, hope, and even surprise. When the tsunami hits Sri Lanka in 2004, Carrère's family remains intact, but all around him he witnesses families destroyed, an aftermath full of horror, and insurmountable grief. Arriving home in Paris, Carrère's partner, Hélène, learns that her younger sister, having fought cancer most of her life, will soon be dead. After this initial heartrending third, the novel shifts from excessive tragedy to an investigative foray, undertaken with Carrère's longtime friend Étienne, into French magistrate jurisdiction over credit lending and debt collection. Here Carrère shows his mastery as a storyteller, unexpectedly revealing the small heroics of a lesser known profession in a way that is delightful, humanizing, and suspenseful. When the narrative again takes a poignant turn, the reader is better prepared and more invested. Although often difficult, Carrère's work here is thoughtful and laced with moments of brilliance. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 07/18/2011
Release date: 09/01/2011
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