Dedicated to Duras’ companion with whom she spent her last decade of life, Yann Andréa Steiner is a haunting dance between two parallel stories of love and solitude: the love between Duras and the young Yann Andréa and a seaside romance observed – or imagined – by the narrator between a camp counselor and an orphaned camper, a Holocaust survivor who witnessed his sister’s murder at the hands of a German soldier. Memory blurs into desire as the summer of 1980 flows into 1944. An enigmatic elegy of history, creation, and raw emotion.
In this lyrical memoir, French novelist Duras sketchily describes her affair with Yann Andrea Steiner, a man 30 years her junior, who helped her overcome alcoholism and depression. To further explore the bounds of unconventional or illicit love, Duras interweaves a semi-mythic tale about Johanna, an 18-year-old camp counselor who loves a six-year-old orphan named Samuel Steiner. Joanna tells Samuel that in 10 years they will reunite at midnight on a beach and make love. Samuel, we learn, is a Holocaust survivor who saw his sister murdered by a German soldier. There is yet another story-within-a-story: Johanna's fanciful allegory of cruelty and compassion involving a boy named David, a shark who wears a baseball cap and a weeping Fountain which dances a Guatemalan polka. The disparate parts of this mannered, self-indulgent exercise do not cohere into a whole.