The Living

Pascale Kramer, Author, Tamsin Black, Translator , trans. from the French by Tamsin Black. Univ. of Nebraska $45 (136p) ISBN 978-0-8032-2774-3 ISBN 978-0-8032-7823-3

Swiss novelist Kramer's first work to be translated into English is the Prix Lipp-winning, brutally forthright take on a family unraveling after the accidental death of two young siblings. The children's deaths are heart-stopping: on a joy ride one hot May afternoon, the boys fatally fall out of an elevated gondola as their 17-year-old uncle, Benoît, and their beautiful young mother, Louise, look on in horror. Louise, around whom the novel largely revolves, has come with her children and surly husband, Vincent, to visit her family in a French town called S.; the children's deaths gradually derail the life of each member of the family. Louise moves in a torpor of grief while growing more dependent on Vincent, who lashes out by taking up with an available local girl. Benoit, gnawed by guilt, begins to cling to Vincent, and Louise's mother, still angry at Louise for getting pregnant when she was a teenager, encourages the men to escape while Louise is paralyzed by suffering. Kramer's sensuous, close observation casts a hypnotic spell on the narrative, leaving the reader unable to put it down until the last word. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 09/24/2007
Release date: 12/01/2007
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 136 pages - 978-0-8032-7823-3
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