July 1962. Oran. “11.00, the sun was already grilling the city”. Andrés Serrano experienced the emigration that year, and he throws us head first into all the worst men who know how to commit. Their unrest, their demands, their shit. Its story revolves around three boys targeted by a killer. They are almost at Andrés’ age at the time, and indulge in games that are not their age. “In these buildings without slate and without tiles, the large burning terraces offered magnificent playgrounds for poor children”, writes the author. Who clarifies a little later: “what he had discovered there, rejected the painting which the author to Pest: the trees and the scent of roses in public gardens or schoolyards lit up these suburbs..
“People despise those who treat them well”
Inspector Abel Helme, who is yet to return to France, will soon, like many others, soon find himself “haunted by his mission” to save one of the children, the killer did not reach. The policeman is facing “to the losers of OAS»reports “ambiguous of the church with the two camps”and especially “for the lives of the little people in the districts of Lions City”. You can hear the birds raised in cages, you can smell the dishes prepared for lunch, you can see the people who populate the buildings. “When he read the names of the incoherent mailboxes, he thought of these great upheavals of people roaming the Earth to expel misery or conquer their freedoms in new lands. Here, surnames resonated above all with Andalusian music: Baena, Para, Reig or Garcia. “
Polar Thursday, previous section
In addition to a very fine description of the society of the time, Andrès Serrano, a professional musician who became a historian, describes details of “human relations” who was chairman at the time. “When it comes to leading a country, people look down on those who treat them well and respect those who do not give them any concessions. This is true in our country, in Western countries, where democratic rules, however, should dampen the spirit of dominance. But then in the Arab-Muslim countries, this law is applied with such ferocity that we are led to pity the rulers … Believe me, Algeria will be ruled by an iron fist!»
To carry out his investigation, Helme is assisted by a “civilian” crossing in a stairwell, who knows the neighborhood like the back of his hand and will guide him like a brother. Together, they will cross paths with Léon Mignoni, a successful entrepreneur, doubled as an authentic bastard. Mignoni had known “take advantage of the huge increase in wine production in Algeria, which was crucial in the process of improving Languedoc wines that are too low in alcohol”. Mignoni had then fought Algeria “remained in the French fold”and had even been “one of the most ardent executors of the nationalist cause going so far as to […] become the most cruel assassin ”.
“The world of children living on the streets”
The story of these children is his, Serrano explains Release. “All these children, these games, they’re in, I’ve been in them. The murder of the old man, a way of describing working-class neighborhoods, and a world of children who lived on the streets, up to Mignoni, who really existed … “ This Spanish culture, in which he was immersed, forbade him to address young girls. It was a taboo. “Our inauguration took place between boys. We were affected by the war. In these remote districts, we, poor children, pasted OAS leaflets, and at the same time we hid weapons for the FLN.
Guitarist, singer … Andrès Serrano has lived by music for a long time. He passed his matriculation exam at the age of 30 and then became a history teacher. The characters he describes are bigger than life. Like this priest who goes “type” the money from a wealthy bank robber acquired from OAS to return them to the families taking the boat to France. He witnessed the massacre of Oran, an episode that is rarely documented, and he insists: “Things are not white or black. As I wrote, I felt buried memories of when I was a child how people became voracious wolves …” Hard is a good word to sum up this noir novel.
I fine mundiAndrès Serrano, New World, 370 pages, 19.90 euros (14.99 euros in e-book)