In this slim, bleak second novel, French psychoanalyst Grimbert fictionalizes his wrenching family history, hidden for much of his youth. Born a sickly child in post-WWII Paris, Grimbert's narrator, Philippe Grimbert, develops an obsessive fascination with the lithe, muscular bodies and athletic prowess of his beautiful parents. His fantasy life extends to an imaginary brother who at first offers comfort and protection, but soon becomes a way for the young narrator to vent his frustration with his own weakness and pallor. At 15, a violent altercation with a schoolroom bully over a lesson on Holocaust victims results in the revelation of his origins: Grimbert, the narrator's family's name, was once Grinberg, and the story of his parents' romantic retreat to the country during the war is shattered by a heartbreaking story of betrayal and sacrifice in occupied France. For Grimbert, the aftermath of WWII forced survivors into prisons of their own memories and denial, bound together by an impossible grief. The story is powerful and gripping, but the juxtaposition between young Philippe's fantasy life and adult wartime realities is underdeveloped. Readers will share in the catharsis of Grimbert's revelations, but may feel a lingering emptiness once his family's secrets have been fully purged. (Feb.)
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"The comfort we get from the cold raw truths -- death and loss and longing -- is that life itself is capable of small beauties. Grimbert captures this with style, depth and grace. Memory is a stunning book which simultaneously manages to widen our sense of history and story-telling." -- Colum McCann, author of Zoli and Dancer
"Powerful and gripping" -- Publishers Weekly
"Memorable" -- Kirkus Reviews
"His allusive, spare, elliptical prose reproduces the feeling of hidden nightmares, and evokes the uncertainty of reconstructing one's life anew with only partial information -- a process undergone by Philippe within the story, and by the author in writing the book. The result is both a poignant contribution to Holocaust literature and the tragic tale of a couple whose personal history was, as Grimbert puts it, 'intertwined with History with a capital H.'" -- Nextbook
"A splendid book that gives the unspeakable written form." -- Le Monde
"'Although an only child, for many years I had a brother.' So begins this spare, remarkable novel, which reads as easily as a children's tale, yet packs a grown-up punch." -- Lisa Appignanesi, The Independent (U.K.)
"Everything about it -- style, tone, sensibility -- is just as it should be. Everything about it -- its structure, and the path it forges toward literary truth -- commands respect." -- L'Express
"A slim little book -- quick, but heavy with terror. [Memory] is marvel of a book, rendered in a fluid and flexible translation from the French by Polly McLean, and its deepest secret of all is that fact and fiction may not be rivals but long-lost brothers." -- Financial Times
"[Memory] is a spare, haunting, brilliantly poised evocation of the way experiences of war, pain, and shame, even when unspoken, percolate through the family to shape and distort new generations." -- The Independent
"A spare, minimally told story, which resonates with historical and personal meaning." -- Jewish Chronicle --This text refers to the Paperback edition.