'Brisk, smart, witty, elliptical ... Recalls the directors of the New Wave ... Bracing and brilliant'Independent
When Patrick Modiano was awarded the 2014 Nobel Prize for Literature he was praised for using the 'art of memory' to bring to life the Occupation of Paris during the Second World War. Born in 1945, Modiano's brilliant, angry writings burst onto the Parisian literary scene and caused a storm.
His first, ferociously satirical novel, La Place de l'Étoile, was remarkable in seriously questioning both Nazi collaboration in France and the myths of the Gaullist era. The Night Watch tells the story of a man caught between his work for the French Gestapo and for a Resistance cell. Ring Roads recounts a son's search for his Jewish father, who disappeared ten years previously.
These brilliant, almost hallucinatory, evocations of the Occupation attempt to exorcise the past by exploring the morally ambiguous worlds of collaboration and resistance.
Nobel Prize winner Modiano's first three novels, collected in this appealing omnibus, deftly demonstrate how the Parisian upper class functioned during the Nazi occupation of France in WWII. The novels "La Place de l'Etoile" (appearing in English for the first time), "The Night Watch," and "Ring Roads" focus on a class of people who often treated the German occupiers as a temporary nuisance and an opportunity to increase their wealth. Aristocratic but scholarly Schlemilovitch, the main character of "La Place de l'Etoile," is kicked out of his lycee, not for being Jewish but because he is a profligate lothario. An older gentleman named L vy-Vend me somehow convinces Schlemilovitch to procure young French girls from the countryside to be sold into the white slave trade. Schlemilovitch finds the girls, but can't bring himself to turn them over to L vy-Vend me. Schlemilovitch's Jewish identity eventually causes him difficulty when he runs afoul of officers who reach for their truncheons when they hear the word "culture." "Ring Roads" chronicles a son's desperate struggle to locate his father amid the war's chaotic aftermath. In "The Night Watch," Modiano exposes the corrupt and dangerous side of the French auxiliaries who joined the Gestapo, personified by the torturing inquisitors Monsieur Philibert and the Khedive. Modiano's sharp depiction of daily life and characters, both in and out of the patrician social class during the war, justly solidifies his reputation as one of the world's leading chroniclers of the human condition.