under the sign of rupture

“Acceptance”, by Solange Bied-Charreton, Stock, 308 p., €20.90, digital €15.

To walk the streets of Belleville, Gestur never leaves his walking shoes or his backpack. He is in Paris several days, even weeks, per month, you can meet him in the “erroneously typical or overly trendy cafes” neighborhood characteristics. But he is likely, at any time, to jump on a plane to return to Iceland or to give an archeology lecture at a major American university.

In Paris, he is constantly on the move – moreover, if we are to believe online translation software, Gestur means “host”, “guest” – even though part of his life was built there; from his relationship with Aurore, a Frenchwoman, a little boy, Erling, is born. A few months after this birth, the lovers will separate. More precisely: Aurore will end up recognizing and naming, accepting, in short, the disappearance of the feelings between them. For months to come, they will share an apartment.

The book is written once everything is over. These are the ruins of this history, the one “of a love then of a lack of love”which Aurore surveys in Acceptance, the fourth novel by Solange Bied-Charreton, returning to meet them, in a bookstore, at the end of 2015, just after the attacks in Paris and Saint-Denis. A meeting among the books, which will end with a text. A meeting, too, which takes place under the sign of rupture, since Aurore, who works in publishing, is there to attend an interview with an author whose text concerns a separation. What Gestur, who came to the store a bit by chance, will have no memory of. It must be said that he is rarely attentive to the suffering of others.

The face-to-face of two cultures

That doesn’t make him an executioner. If Aurore is the victim of something, it is undoubtedly illusions that Gestur’s otherness has given birth to in her. There is no anger in his story, but, and this is part of its prize, a lucid and heartbroken sweetness. As she unfolds their story, always remembering what failure lies in wait for her, a great calm emerges from her sentences, which at times are punctured by bursts of self-mockery, and, at other times, blocks of wonder. facing the splendor of Iceland. There is also a form of wisdom born of the pain and loneliness into which this liaison with a man whose “the sudden, raw character of [la] presence, was tinged with evanescence”.

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