The Night Eaters
by Marie Charrel
The Observatory, 304 pages, €21
“Indomitable” are the heroes of this novel crossed by a magnificent breath. The story takes place from the 1920s to the post-war years in the wild lands of British Columbia, Canada. Hannah and Jack’s loneliness will eventually come together, but how? It will take time for them to get used to themselves because “confidences are not claimed, they are earned”.
How will the daughter of Japanese immigrants resist the violence? “In the center of the room lies a stone surrounded by a sheet of paper, on which are written the following words: we will come we will take we will kill. Leave before it’s too late. A deleterious climate worsening until the attack on Pearl Harbor.
As for Jack, bereaved by his family, how can he hold on? The “creekwalker” goes up the course of the torrents to count the salmon and flee the men. Everywhere, the violence is palpable, everyone arrogating the right to lay down the law, while upright souls resist: “Being at peace with fate is the way to stand up to the chaos of the world. »
Crossing the years by back and forth which give a captivating rhythm to the novel, Marie Charrel plays with destinies and dramas. Over time, Japanese but also indigenous minorities confronted vulgar and possessive conquerors. But the picture would be incomplete if we did not refer to the great outdoors, peopled with beasts and legends.
So what is this mythical white bear doing, this “spirit bear” who mingles with human history? And what about those big fireflies that we call night eaters “who nibble at the darkness with their greedy mouths”?
Marie Charrel is a remarkable storyteller. Telling stories is the very legacy of the heroes of his book: “My father said that stories are daughters of the wind, like little fairies wandering in the immensity of the sky, lost, until ‘they meet a storyteller willing to set them free with his words,’ says Hannah.
And poetry itself will lodge itself even in the most painful dramas: “What remains after the tears, when the body has already shed them all? The silence. The despair. The mourning multiplies, and we must hold on: “You are not alone. Some of your relatives are dead, but others are not yet born. Many are all around you. This is the great mystery. »
Perhaps life is like this forest traversed by thundering torrents, an image of life advancing without hope of return: “No. To heal would be to return to the initial state. One does not erase such wounds; we dive into it, we immerse ourselves in pain and darkness until we pass through them. When one has passed to the other side, only then can one start walking again. »
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