“Mercy Street”, “Les Ravissements”… The options of the Pantagruel bookstore in Marseille


The place is in the image of the hero who gives it its name: bon vivant, humanist, curious, impertinent, irreverent. It is not surprising that readers in the neighborhood or a little further away have fallen madly in love with it: whether they read two books a year or read 200, Pantagruel* knows how to satiate them and even introduce them to unknown dishes From the classics to the last nugget of Tusitala’s editions (Als carrers del Barrio by Piri Thomas, an unpublished novel, published in 1967 in the United States, which narrates the author’s adolescence in the Spanish Harlem of post war, “Diamond in the rough imbued with poetry”), Émilie Berto and his team clean the catalogs to extract the essential marrow, works that offer keys to understanding an often incomprehensible world. Every week, the bookstore hosts an event, such as the deliberations of the Pantagruel Prize, reading workshops or meeting a writer. On January 19, a reading night around Rabelais will bring together connoisseurs and neophytes, while February will put Quebec in the spotlight.

Best seller: Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
(Gallmeister, trans. from English (United States) by Janique-Jouin-de Laurens, 432 pages, 25 euros).

Gallmeister Editions has a knack for importing great books from the United States, such as Dans la forêt by Jean Hegland or Betty by Tiffany McDaniel. Mercy Street has the stuff of these cult novels. Choral history, takes us to Boston, to meet characters that revolve around Mercy Street, a clinic that practices abortion. Claudia works there and sees struggling patients and pro-life protesters. One of them meets an online anti-abortion guru who slowly develops a fixation with Claudia. Delving into the skin and history of characters with sometimes diametrically opposed paths and ideas, Jennifer Haigh examines the motivations of each. At a time when the ban on abortion is spreading in the United States, Mercy Street helps to understand how a so-called democratic state comes to question a fundamental freedom.

Favorite: The Raptures of Jan Carson
(Translation from English (Ireland) by D. Goy-Blanquet, Sabine Wespieser, 440 pages, 24 euros).

As the summer holidays approach, the children die, taken by an unknown disease. Of the eleven students present in Hannah’s class, soon only ten remain, then nine, then eight… all of whom appear to the young woman in a state of ectoplasm. The summer of 1993, however, promised to be similar to the previous ones in Ballylack, despite the “troubles” that set Northern Ireland on fire every year. Panic soon infects the inhabitants of this peaceful Ulster town: is this strange disease that kills their children the manifestation of divine punishment? What are they guilty of? Rightly acclaimed for The Firethrowers, Jan Carson once again stands out for tackling taboo subjects specific to Irish society head-on, such as the temptation of evil to which we are all likely to succumb.

Discovery: One day, my daughter disappeared into the night from my brain
(Stéphanie Kalfon, Gallimard, 208 pages, 18.50 euros).

One evening at a carnival, Nina, Emma’s daughter, disappears for long hours before reappearing. But Emma doesn’t recognize her. The bonds that only a father can create with his offspring seem to have loosened: “this child is not mine,” she asserts, categorically, while those around her try to persuade her otherwise. Step-by-step immersion into the psyche of a woman struggling with paranoia, this dense and virtuosic story reads in breathless fashion. Every reader, parent or not, identifies with his heroine and recognizes, like an animal hiding in the shadows, the madness that is slowly taking over her. Written as an investigation into the twists and turns of a family, of a brain, the novel constantly puts its reader on a new path and walks them, never using big threads for it.

* 44, rue Paul-Codaccioni, 13007 Marseille. Instagram: @librairiepantagruel

Source : Le JDD

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