cover image In His Own Image

In His Own Image

Jérôme Ferrari, trans. from the French by Alison Anderson. Europa, $17 trade p

Prix Goncourt winner Ferrari (The Principle) returns with the discursive story of a dead photojournalist. In 2003, Antonia is photographing a wedding in Corsica when she runs into a Serbian soldier she knew 10 years earlier during the Bosnian War. They talk to each other all night, and early the next morning she accidentally drives her car off a cliff. During her funeral mass, reluctantly led by an unnamed priest who is also her uncle and godfather, Ferrari parcels out Antonia’s life. She gets her first camera, from the uncle, at age 14 and later embarks on a journalism career largely focused on Corsican militants, one of whom she dates off and on between his prison stints. The priest’s inner monologue turns the mass into a self-pitying recollection of his battles with his faith and his illogical belief that he is responsible for Antonia’s death because he gave her a camera as a child. Chapters about early 20th-century photographers intrude on the narrative, sentences stretch on over pages, and not all the prose is particularly insightful (“Staring at her television, because the past is always more legible than the present,” begins a description of Antonia). It’s an intriguing story, but it’s undone by misfiring flourishes. (Mar.)