Célia Houdart, trans. from the French by K.E. Gormley. Dalkey Archive, $14.95 trade paper (98p) ISBN 978-1-62897-327-3
Houdart’s gripping English-language debut builds into a sensitive, masterful study of the consequences of life’s minor turns. Marian, a judge in the city of Pisa, Italy, is presiding over the trial of Marco Ipranossian, accused of shooting and wounding the prefect of Pisa during a robbery. Marco, an Armenian mechanic whose mother was Italian, has been in jail for three years by the time the trial begins, held because of a note found in his pocket at the time of arrest that connected him to the shooting. But Marian, tipped off by a phone call, begins to suspect there’s more to Marco’s case; meanwhile, her husband Andrea, an academic, searches for work, and their teenage daughter Lea, a budding sculptor, travels to a studio in Carrara twice a week to “patiently coax a form” out of white marble. In brief chapters full of sharp, luminous, and original observations—the way old seats in a courtroom resemble “strange, melted crates,” or how a preoccupation lodged in one’s mind can “form an impenetrable barrier between her and her memories”—Houdart both fulfills and transcends the conventions of the crime novel. Memorable for the way it casts Marco’s fate as just one node in a network of friendships, relationships, coincidences, and echoes, this slim novel is a surprising pleasure. (Jan.)
Reviewed on : 11/11/2019
Release date: 01/28/2020
Genre: Fiction
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