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March 16, 2023

#WW II Sorj Chalandon

by NancyElin

Foto of Chalandon’s father….


Enfant de salaud by Sorj Chalandon by Sorj Chalandon (no photo)

Finished: March 2023
Genre: (WW II)
Rating: A++++
Review: Énfant de salaud (ISBN: 9782253936824)

Good news: Amazing story…Sorj Chalandon’s new novel tells how he finally discovers the true story of his father, at the same time as the trial of Klaus Barbie takes place. This shortlisted for the prestigious French literary Prix Goncourt 2021. I’m sure this book will be translated into English very soon!

Good news: The strength of this novel is to mix history with Chalandon’s father’s part in that trajectory in WW II France.

Good news: Writing style is very personal (father-son relationship) yet also informative (history). Asked by the newspaper Libération to report on the Klaus Barbie trial in May-July 1987, Sorj Chalandon puts into perspective his 1. father’s stories 2. his investigation of his father’s past during the war and 3. the course of the trial in which his father also attends.

Personal: I was fascinated by the story and especially elements of WWII that I did not know about. Most heartbreaking was….. The Gestapo, under the direction of the ‘Butcher of Lyon’ Klaus Barbie, entered the orphanage of Izieu in eastern France and forcibly removed the forty-four children and their seven supervisors, throwing the crying and terrified children on to the trucks. I read every single French word (…no matter how many times I had to consult a FR-ENG dictionary) mainly because of Chalandon’s approach to this book. He does not assume the position of the journalist when he retraces some episodes of this trial. Chalandon is closer to himself, listening to his feelings. Impressive was the way the author gives us his father’s reactions… his almost constant indifference to the testimonies of the victims. His father had more interest in Klaus Barbie (gazing at him with a hint of a smile) and his fascination for Jacques Vergès, a French-Algerian who was Barbie’s defence lawyer. My next book is Mémoires by Serge Karsfeld and his wife Beate Karlfeld…famous Nazi hunters. They finally tracked Barbie down in Bolivia and brought him to justice.

Mémoires by Beate Klarsfeld

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