From Publishers Weekly
A former Communist radical recalls his revolutionary cell's late 1960s glory days as he drives around contemporary Paris and explains "the movement" to Marie, the daughter of a comrade who died under questionable circumstances. Back in the day, Martin and others in the cause wreaked havoc on the bourgeoisie, from vandalizing the villas of the rich to kidnapping the CEO of a company that was selling bomb components to the U.S. Air Force. But now, the aging idealist has trouble confronting the realities of the new millennium, with former comrades selling real estate and frequenting trendy bistros. In the end, the death is still a mystery to both Martin and Marie: was it suicide, or a stoned man's accident? And does it matter which? Shortlisted for the 2003 Goncourt Prize, the novel's emphasis on French politics, combined with the second-person, nearly stream-of-consciousness narration—though superbly translated by Cloonan—will make Rolin's latest rough sledding for American readers not already into dense French lit. (Mar.)
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“Martin, an aging French radical from the 60s, wonders where it all went and why. One night in 2000, when this rushing stream of a book is set, he broods out loud while driving around (and around and around) Paris with Marie, the 24-year-old daughter of his best friend from ‘the Cause.’ . . . [T]here are also treats that make the car ride worth taking, some serious . . . and others delightfully comic. . . . When the journey to the end of the night is over, the impression left behind (at once comforting and disturbing) is that history will make a paper tiger of every high hope and feared foe alike, no matter how seemingly imperishable.”— Alison McCulloch, New York Times Book Review
“Paper Tiger is a brilliant novel that explores the complex intertwining of idealism and politics and violence, a critical theme in the early twenty-first century. But the book does far more. It also illuminates the universal longing by each human soul for self and connection and a way of living in a complex world. Olivier Rolin is a towering figure in French literature, and I am deeply grateful for his introduction into the English language by William Cloonan’s vigorous and smart and elegant translation. The publication of Paper Tiger in the United States is a literary event of major importance, for Rolin is a consummate artist who will speak profoundly to the American heart.”—Robert Olen Butler, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain