Monday, 19 December 2016

Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel

Brodeck's Report by Philippe Claudel
First published in French as Le Rapport de Brodeck in 2007. English language translation by John Cullen published by Quercus in 2009. Winner of the Prix Goncourt de Lyceens and the Independent Foreign Fiction Prize.

Where to buy this book:
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How I got this book:
Bought at a charity shop

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From his village in post-war France, Brodeck makes his solitary journeys into the mountains to collect data on the natural environment. Day by day he also reconstructs his own life, all but lost in the years he spent in a camp during the war. No-one had expected to see him again. One day, a flamboyant stranger rides into the village, upsetting the fragile balance of everyday life. Soon he is named the Anderer, “the other”, and tensions rise until, one night, the newcomer is murdered. Brodeck is instructed to write an account of the events leading to his death, but his report delivers much more than the bare facts: it becomes the story of a community coming to terms with the legacy of enemy occupation. In a powerful narrative of exceptional fascination, Brodeck's Report explores the very limits of humanity.

Another surprisingly excellent book which was just £2 in Oxfam! Brodeck's Report was the first Philippe Claudel nov I read and it is still my favourite for its incredibly powerful and mysterious writing. The story of how an isolated mountain village copes with the aftermath of war is horribly real and all too understandable. We see through the eyes of Brodeck who was exiled to a concentration camp at the start of the war. He returned to find his name on a monument of the dead, his wife mute, and his position within the community irrevocably changed.

Although the synopsis names the country as France, it is never explicitly mentioned and identifying details could apply to any number of countries and any number of eras. Brodeck's Report is a powerful book of the depths to which humanity can and does sink when driven by hate or fear, or in search of power. Not an easy read in any sense, but I think this book is brilliant.

Search Lit Flits for more:
Books by Philippe Claudel / War fiction / Books from France

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