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Autopsy of a Father by Pascale Kramer

Autopsy of a Father

by Pascale Kramer

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Showing 5 of 5
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
When her politically controversial father commits suicide, a young woman returns home to face the memories of her father and his legacy. This was a short, not entirely easy, but absolutely beautiful story. The author's way of unfolding a disturbing past without any blatant statements of fact makes for a very subtle read and, although I should have been frustrated at not finding out the answers to all my questions, the odd unease the story caused me to feel was so strangely enjoyable that I didn't mind. This story may be about racism and fear, but what I most take away from it is the sadness of family/friends/lovers drifting apart due to misunderstandings and presumptions. It's a very quiet story, this, but its mood stayed with me long after I finished reading. ( )
  -Eva- | Jun 26, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Ania is estranged from her father, Gabriel, a prominent journalist, not having seen him for four years. However, she decides to visit him with her young son, Theo. The visit is an awkward one. Ania is shocked to learn the next day that her father has committed suicide. Ania returns to her father’s home where she grew up and tries to piece together the last years of her father’s life. She discovers that her father was fired from his job when he defended the murder of a harmless African immigrant. Her father’s actions have released a violent response in the community. How did her father turn into such a racist?

I was very impressed by this short novel translated from the French language in which the author wrote. It’s a quiet book but kept me riveted to the pages with a chill up my spine. The title is a perfect one as this book is in fact an autopsy of this man, an in depth look at his life, family and animosity towards immigrants. It’s insightful and compelling and casts a light on the racial tension in France.

I now want to read more of this author’s work and I’ll be getting a chance to do just that since, along with an ARC of Ms. Kramer’s newest book, the publisher also kindly sent me a copy of “The Child” by the same author. You’ll be seeing a review on that book fairly soon!

Very unsettling and quite fascinating. Recommended.

This book was given to me by the publisher in return for an honest review. ( )
  hubblegal | Jun 17, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This sparse, yet beautifully written short novel, concerns the broken relationship between a father and his daughter. Ania returns home after four years to attend her father' funeral. During their estrangement her famous journalist father has turned into a right wing bigot. Her homecoming allows her to piece together her father's life and examine her own childhood. Also, she contemplates her relationship with her Serbian ex-husband and their deaf child. Exploring themes of immigration and intolerance brings a currency to the book. Although Ienjoyed her spare writing style, I wish that Pascale Kramer had fleshed out some of the minor characters and scenes, I, also, thought the novel ended abruptly. ( )
  snora | Jun 12, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Pascale Kramer's novel AUTOPSY OF A FATHER (translated from the French by Robert Bononno) is short (just 205 pages), but very complex and dense with nuance and meaning about contemporary France and how it is dealing (or failing to) with the recent influx of immigrants from Africa, the Mideast and Eastern Europe.

The story's main character, Ania Delacre-Janic, is perhaps a perfect example. She is about 35, her father was French, her mother (apparently brutally murdered - although, oddly, the circumstances are never made entirely clear - when Ania was only six) Iranian, and Ania herself was married briefly to a Serb. Gabriel Delacre, the father of the title, was an intellectual radio journalist, disgraced and shunned at the end of his life because of a stand he took on a "hate crime," the senseless murder of an African refugee by two local youths. Hating "his generation and himself for having allowed that world to impose itself, whether through negligence or idealism," Gabriel had publicly announced: "I care less about this man's death than the fate of the two young men who grew up here." Long estranged from his daughter, his career ruined, 58 year-old Gabriel takes his own life in a particularly gruesome manner, forcing Ania to examine not only her father's life and death, but her own choices over the past twenty-plus years, including her short-lived marriage, which resulted in a son, six year-old Theo, who is deaf.

Her ex-husband, Novak Janic, is a drifter and ne'er-do-well, who works "construction jobs, off the books," and continues to insinuate himself into Ania's life, using their son as an excuse, although he clearly has little patience for the frail, sensitive boy. Ania also meets Clara, her father's sophisticated new wife, only a few years older than herself. Clara, obviously devastated by Gabriel's suicide, is also embittered by the events surrounding it, understanding the simmering resentment of local residents, and tells Ania -

"These people are fed up. They're tired of being spit on because they stand up for what they built here in these villages that no one much cares about. This crime disgusts me as much as you, but accept the fact that I also understand the anger that some people around here can't let go of."

Ania at least partially understands this, since she works at a daycare where many of the children are from refugee families, about whom she has mixed feelings -

"... these lives of such precariousness, who were showing up in greater and greater numbers, overwhelmed her with anxiety and feelings of antipathy that she was often unable to understand."

As Ania sifts through her father's things, as well as her own past, she is caught up in a simmering standoff between local residents and idealists which quickly affects the arrangements for her father's burial in a nearby cemetery. The final pages of the novel, which initially progresses rather slowly, are shocking and brutal, and will leave readers with much to think about. Because, while the setting here may be the suburbs of modern Paris, many correlations can be easily drawn to what is also happening here in our own country, divided as it is these days politically and otherwise.

AUTOPSY OF A FATHER is not a pleasant tale to read, but it is exquisitely crafted and universally relevant to these troubled times. Highly recommended to serious readers everywhere.

- Tim Bazzett, author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Jun 11, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
more of a novella than a novel, it covers only a few days but we learn so much about Ania's world - much of it steeped in the circumstances with her father, but also reflected in her son.
It leaves me wanting more - what happens next? Does this change the course of her life? How does Theo feel - years later when he is able to explicate it?
There was a great beauty and truth talking about the relationships that we fall into instead of choosing, and how deep those feelings can run - the wife of a relative, friend of a parent, caretaker of our youth. They are chosen without our say, but we're HUMAN, of course we have feelings about the other person. And about the feelings of the person in between. ( )
  ansate | Jun 11, 2017 |
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