Friday, November 19, 2010

Auto-fiction & the Art of the Novel: Nicolas Fargues

 The French writer Nicolas Fargues, born in 1972, is the author of several  novels (Demain si vous le voulez bien, Le tour du propriétaire, Rade terminus, One Man Show, J’étais derrière toi, Beau rôle, Le roman de l’été). 

His novels continue to be in the limelight of literary rentrées, and to be popular with readers at home and abroad.


The novel "I Was Behind You" (J’étais derrière toi), published in English by Pushkin Press,  is a page turner. 

Awarded the Saint Valentin prize in  2007, the novel can be described as, its author suggests in an interview posted on Youtube, an exercise in auto- fiction



Beyond any literary cataloguing however, this is a prose into which a reader
ventures forth with confidence, within a myriad of thoughts and gestures, narrated with gusto and masked sincerity.

The novel is an X-ray of the dissolution of a couple adrift, whose raw turbulence we witness first hand.

The tone of the novel is that of an incessant confession – a mimed dialogue between writer and reader:

“ In a way, this has also been, more or less,  my issue with women, my issue with the others, in general: to make recurrent amends in order to hide my lack of feelings.”
(page 127 from the French paperback).

“After by behavior with Alexandrine - the little adulterous husband – even if I take great care to not promise her anything, I sometimes feel as if I’m a cartoon character, a depressive fellow, the married lover who cannot make up his mind.”
(page 162, ibidem).

The dynamics of the couple, interesting and unpredictable in its predictable evolution reminded me of the novel "The Leash" (La laisse) by Françoise Sagan: the same vaporous escaping of a somewhat tormented male from a conjugal mechanism sans issue.  

In "The Leash" the couple’s disarray is depicted in a much more light-hearted manner than in "I Was Behind You", but both novels display a somewhat similar abhorrence of profound feelings – an  common literary reflex if you will:  irony and lucidity stifle any potential propensity for drama.

"I Was Behind You", I am convinced, will continue to summon numerous readers around it, who will  continue to discuss Nicolas Fargues’ writing with enthusiasm.



Conrad DiDiodato said...


ever thought of translating into English some contemporary French fiction (such as that of Fargues)?

I'd bet there's a market for it in Canada.

Irina said...

Hello Conrad:

Interesting idea!

I have had some fuzzy ideas about it but likely never articulated it as you have write now...thank you.
There is definitely a market for it - and I have noticed the number of Fargues' novels in French increase on library shelves.

Excellent idea!

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