three children on their own

IN Zizi cabinis the disappearance for the first time of a woman, a mother of three children who evaporates overnight from the house … before she unexpectedly reinvests the basement, the garden and eventually the entire surrounding landscape.

With a fantasy that belongs only to her, Bérengère tells Cournut about the fate of the unusual trio of children left to their own devices. The youngest is named Zizi Cabane and needs to learn more to live with deprivation. From the lands of childhood to the lands of the far north, a new journey begins.

The author says it himself:

I am not used to mentioning my biography to explain my work. But this time, hard for me not to admit that the mother of three children, while for a period of time I had feared never having any, I imagined in Zizi Cabane the disappearance of a woman who had also given her life three times . And that I had this thought experiment shortly before I reached the age that my own father was when he died when I was a child.

All of my books depict female characters going out on the paths to fill the absence of a loved one, and finally discovering that this absence is a constant presence that determines their appetite for the world. Since my first novel, I have put landscapes at the center of this reconstruction process and rely on dreams to justify changes in trajectory, to engage in an intimate understanding of what creates a destiny.

With Zizi cabin, I push this logic to the extreme – while telling the same story again. It’s obvious, we do not really know what drives our lives. Family history is important, of course, but trying to put it into words is difficult – and sometimes in vain. The modesty of the characters of Zizi Cabane joins this hopis or inuits. And the Seine Valley plays the same role as the Arizona desert plateaus or the Arctic countries of success, where psychological analyzes fail: to experience my characters’ folly and transient loneliness, to make them achieve some form of liberation.

So yes, this novel is probably the end of a cycle for me. She was born happy in Oraibi and tried to put an end to the paternal grief. De pierre et d’osse started from the desire to explore (non) parenthood, the absence of a biological family. Zizi Cabane is going to complete a circle by turning these resolute voids into a gentle fullness: once the lack is given, assumed, all sorts of possible fates open up for the characters and for us.

Zizi Cabane will have tried a lot to write, perhaps because of the search for this new peace that will eventually inhabit her. He asked me to search in my most intimate landscapes and dig a little deeper into this original error of loss and lack. He demanded that I once again reconstruct the failing memory of the first years of life and that I mix childhood and present age. To dampen the boundary that separates life and death, I had to imagine a mother’s disappearance and then make her appear in primary elements (water, wind, star fire). I suppose by doing this I am trying to find an animistic vision of life as it is so lacking in the West.

What I would at least believe is that Zizi and Odile in their discreet way reveal to us that we can let go of everything, go as far as to the disintegration, loss and / or abandonment of our memory, to come back stronger , more peaceful from the cross that is death. And that this, considered a simple passage, simply makes us join the natural forces at work on the planet.

As part of an unprecedented tour to present their literary season, four publishers – Philippe Rey, Le Tripode, Le Passage and Bruit du Monde – are meeting 250 bookstores across France. As a preview, they invite us to discover the excerpts of the various novels, which will then be revealed.

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