Thomas B Reverdy ‘Il était une ville’

Reverdy is no newcomer to dramas set in faraway worlds, after his last work, ‘Les evaporés’ (Those spirited away), published in 2013 and set In Japan, ‘Il était une ville’ (There was a city) is an ambitious book with three story lines set in a post apocalyptic Detroit, except that the apocalypse which is the background for the book actually took place!

In the presentation of the book Reverdy’s editor explains that ‘he tells us what love is in the times of catastrophe’***


Reverdy takes us to Detroit in 2008, where Eugene, a young manager with an already chequered past, is sent to Detroit by his Corporation (Either as a punishment or as a last chance) to lead a multi-national team on a project that can never realistically see the light of day.

Reverdy shows us from several view points the central theme of the book,

” ….. And this is also what is at stake in human society. Run, we don’t know how to do anything else. And when things start to go wrong, we accelerate – what else can we do ?….At the precise moment of their fall, all civilisations seem to be like headless chickens”***

With the Corporation that continues to imagine grandiose solutions in spite of its own inevitable demise, forgetting about its different teams along the way.

With Detroit where “You had to carry on buying houses, cars, filling your supermarket caddy, but there weren’t any more jobs”.***

With the City Police where due to the bankruptcy of the city administration they no longer have the adequate equipment to do their job whilst the mayor of the city is forced to resign after the murder of an ex call girl brings to light  his sex parties and fraud on a massive scale.

With more than seventy youths who go missing over a period of several months without the police being notified in a shrinking city (Detroit actually shrinks by one third of its population) and who are found living together in the abandoned city center.

In this chaos, Reverdy shows us some people that care and gives us a story of love and hope that does not seem out of place.

The ravages of capitalism on Detroit shown in this book do not seem so very different from that shown on Moscow by Makïne in ‘A Woman Loved’

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Published in French in 2015 by Flammarion
***My translation

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