What a subject matter for an epic film! Sorj Chalandon’s latest book ‘The Fourth Wall’ has yet to be translated into English, and thanks to matrenaud for insisting I read this book. I had met Sorj Chalandon 2 or 3 years ago at the Paris book fair and read his 2011 book, ‘Return to Killybegs’ about an IRA traitor during the troubles, based on a true experience of Chalandon’s, a war reporter who had himself been confronted with the situation of discovering an IRA friend who had been a traitor for twenty years, already a strong story. His latest book The Fourth Wall concerns another conflict he covered in the early 80’s, the war in Lebanon. Here was a complex civil war I did not really understand at the time, there were so many sides involved and so much killing that I just could not relate to it back then. This compulsive, thoughtful, yet page turning book written to present the different sides in this conflict, the tragedy of civil war -today’s victim becomes so easily tomorrow’s slaughterer- the senselessness of the violence whilst not judging the protagonists, caught my interest from start to end and left me better understanding this particular conflict. The story follows in a more or less linear manner a French student called George through the tumultuous 70’s in Paris taking in his friendship with a Greek exile who had been weakened by torture and who finishes by persuading Geourge to stage Antigone by Jean Anouilh in Beirut during the civil war, taking one character from each of the sides engaged in the war. In a few brush strokes we grow attached to the characters he paints and feel pain as the events unfold. A formidable story indeed!
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Le Quatrième Mur: First published in France by Grasset in 2013