hommes

The latest addition to my website is Jean-Luc Seigle‘s En vieillissant les hommes pleurent [Men Cry As They Get Older]. It is set primarily in July 1961 and concerns the Chassaing family – Albert, a working class man who works for Michelin but who still feels the shame of the surrender of the French army in 1940, which led to his spending nearly five years as a German prisoner-of-war, his wife Suzanne, who never knew her parents, hates the past and adores her son, Henri, who is serving in Algeria, and Gilles, the youngest son, spurned by his mother, adored by his father (though he does not realise this) and who spends almost all his free time in a book, something quite unusual in both his family and in the village where they live. All the characters seem to be looking for something, though they are not always quite sure what, particularly Albert, who cannot come to terms with the French surrender, who loves his wife but cannot express this either in words or in sex and who cannot quite find where he fits in. The purchase of a television, the first in the village, in order to see a programme on Algeria in which Henri will make a brief appearance leads to Albert finally making his grand and futile gesture, while his wife has an affair with the postman and his son is learning to appreciate literature with Monsieur Antoine, a retired schoolmaster. It is an excellent book about a fairly ordinary French family at a difficult time in French history. Of course, it has not been translated into English, though it has been translated into Italian and Spanish.