This Tilting World
Colette Fellous, Sophie Lewis, Cecile Menon, Michele Roberts
Sidi Bou Said, Tunisia: on the night after the terrorist attack killing thirty-eight tourists on the nearby beach of Sousse, a woman sits facing the sea, and attempts to take stock. Personal tragedies soon resurface, the unexpected deaths of a dear friend – a fellow writer who died just weeks ago at sea, having forsaken the work that had given his life meaning – and of her father, a quiet man who had left all that he held dear in Tunisia to emigrate to France in his later years. Through childhood memories and the prism of modern French classics, the story of Tunisia’s Jewish community is pieced together. Shifting from Tunisia to Paris to a Flaubertian village in Normandy, Colette Fellous embarks on a Proustian lyrical journey, in which she gives voice to loved ones silenced by death and to those often unheard in life. Her love letter and adieu to her native country becomes an archive – or refuge – for stories of human resilience.
`Colette Fellous' beautiful book, humming and dancing with sensual intelligence, newly vivid in Sophie Lewis's deft, delicate, agile version, takes change and translation as its very themes. It asks us to imagine leaving home, searching for a new home. That home may simply be language itself, a web of knotted meanings. However, if that web serves as a rope bridge slung between places and people, and the bridge is cut and falls, survival is put at stake. This Tilting World explores how, after such a rupture, one woman tries to re-compose the meanings of her life and thereby go on living.' (Michele Roberts). `Fragments: the result of dispersion, of destruction perhaps - but also the indispensable ingredients for a promise of reparation. This duality lies at the heart of the final volume of Colette Fellous's work of remembrance... merely giving shape to intimate material, from which to look out on the world, and welcome in the outside.... Faced with hopeless violence, the mind's eye keeps watch and goes on to foster the struggle for softness that Colette Fellous learnt from Barthes, so that the moment of hiatus is calm and bright - a redemption. This book probes our reaction in the face of a world in shreds.' (Le Monde Des Livres). `A bewitching, hallucinatory elegy to home and exile, love and death, memory and loss. In precise, haunting prose, Fellous evokes the places and relationships, smells and sounds that make up this jigsaw of memories, set against the violence of contemporary events in Tunisia and France.' (Natasha Lehrer). `Colette Fellous (...) has two homelands: her birthplace, Tunisia, and her language, French. Between them is an arc, a tension, an energy: that of a double belonging which does not alienate but provides an opening.' (Le Monde). `[Fellous] enchants with her way of capturing emotions, sensations, moments, and people. She elegantly opens the doors to the past.' (Livres Hebdo). `...a reflection-sensitive and honest-on our present, this impossible present, this threshold between yesterday and a complex future, where we "see how our own lives have been entirely created by political history despite our thinking that they were ours alone, that they were `personal'".' (Diacritik). `Beyond the sadness and the loss, is a great seductive energy - we are drawn by a wish to live and to learn - and Fellous's inimitable way of regarding the world.' (Madame Figaro for Un amour de frere). `Without nostalgic yearning, lithe and fluid in her way of capturing the coruscating nature of words, Fellous weaves past and present into a labyrinth of a book in which she shares her passions: writing, tuning herself to the world and untangling with relish the threads of reality and of thought.' (Le Magazine Litteraire for La preparation de la vie). `Like a true disciple of Barthes, Colette Fellous works in fragments which she stiches together with infinite delicacy, inlaying the fabric of the text with black and white photographs, embroidering its surface with precious details; a sensual constellation of memories, colours and scents... The self as a fragment becomes an art, elegant and sensitive, as Colette Fellous returns to the vestiges of the past.' (Les Inrockuptibles for La preparation de la vie).
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