Today, I would like to speak about a novel written by a French author whose name is Pierre Lemaitre: Au revoir là-haut (Goodbye up there). This novel received in 2013 (the year of its publication) the well-known Goncourt Price. This book belongs to the picaresque genre. One of the features of this genre is that the protagonist is an unfortunate character and he generally lives outside the society. In Au revoir là-haut there are two leading characters named Albert Maillard and Edouart Péricourt. They were French soldiers during World War One (the first chapters unfold this period). As we all know, France « won » this conflict. But after, the country essentially concentrated on the dead – by spending a lot of money to honorably bury the victims and to build memorials- and not on the survivors. The reader follows these two former soldiers and is going to discover how they want to make money.
Before giving my opinion about the book I would like to precise that the title of this novel was inspired by the last words of Jean Blanchard, a soldier who was unfairly accused of desertion and shot. Indeed, he wrote to his wife: (approximately translated) « I fix an appointement for you in heaven where I hope that God will reunite us. Goodbey up there, my dear wife ».
This book was very interesting to read. I didn’t imagine that some survivors of the War were so forgotten. There was not enough money to pay them and they lived in poverty. Moreover I also learned about the « coffins trafic ». Soldiers were buried everywhere because there were too many deads and it was forbidden to exhume the corpses but some families wanted to bury their relative in the cemetery of the town they lived in so they became law-breakers by exhuming the corpse at night and re-burying it elsewhere.
Au revoir là-haut was adapted into a comic that I’ve not read but I saw it and the drawings are really beautiful and I heard that it was very faithful to the book. A movie is also going to be released (I don’t precisely know the date) and I will surely watch it!
Did you know this book? Do you want to read it?