Where I left my soul by Jérôme Ferrari

where I left my soul Jérôme Ferrari

Where I left my soul by Jérôme Ferrari

French Fiction

Original title – Où j’ai laissé mon âme

Translator – Geoffrey Strachan

Source Review copy

Now sometimes you read a book love it but it unsettles you in some ways ,this is what happened with Where I left my soul ,I read it late last year ,but decide to sit on it and let the book settle in my mind as  it is quite a powerful book that unsettled me but one that I feel people need to read  .Now one has to admire Christopher Machlehose and his team for yet again getting a great book out for the writer to then win a major prize Jérôme Ferrari latest book in France last year won the Prix Goncourt ,this book had won four  literary  prizes in France  and one of my tips for this years IFFP .Jérôme Ferrari is a rising star of French fiction , by day he is a philosophy lecturer ,he has live in Corsica and Algeria and is currently professor of Philosophy at the French school in Abu Dhabi .So to where I left my soul .

He sat facing Tahar .

“We won’t touch you ,you know ”

“I ask no favours ,Capaitaine .I’m ready to receive the same treatment as my Comrades ”

“It’s not a favor .It’s nothing to do either favors .It’s a matter …. a simple matter of Logic ,you see .You can’t denounce yourself ,can you ?

The first exchange between the Capataine as Strachan has chosen to keep him from Tahar’s view and Tahar .


For the book Ferrari has chosen Algeria where he has lived before ,but to an earlier and more turbulent period in the country’s history and the year  is 1957 ,this falls in the middle of the war for independence from france .the setting is a french army camp and the interrogators have got a Algerian freedom fighter Tahar an idealistic  man willing to do anything for his country and willing to face the consequences is the rebel leader and called” the Pure  ” .The French are represented by two main characters Captain Degorce   he is an older French solider that has been impression and interrogated himself and was also impression in Vietnam ,Then the is the younger Lieutenant Andreani also served in Vietnam with the captain ,but this man has a very vicious streak .What follows is a tale of three men and what war makes people do and except as being caught .The events in the book take part over three days as we see what happens between the three men and how they end up there  .

Your contempt does not matter any more  than mine ,mon capitaine ,it is powerless against the force of this love I have never managed to eradicate from my heart ,for it has been rooted there like a weed ,full of vitality ,and I know nothing will eradicate it .

powerful words from  Tahar near the end of the book

The heart of this book is beliefs truth and how to stay human in war .Thou set in 1957 during what is regard as the most violent and hard-fought war of the 20th century the war of independence of Algeria .The title is even a play on the mind of you as a reader as who has left their soul? ,who has soul?  ,who hasn’t  it ? and maybe can a pure soul be defeated ?.It’s a story of three men and how even thou the captain and Tahar are from different sides and he has seen what the lieutenant has   to the man they call Tahar the Pure .Ferrari has said he want the book to show” the moment we open our eyes to Horrors ” and this is what trouble me I have read accounts of torture before but something in this book had touched me .But it is a timely remind of the fact that eye for an eye tactics in war ,don’t really work and when we casually use words for torture it is maybe remove the effect on the people being tortured and also those doing it in the long-term .One is remind of the main times you hear of torture on the news at present it is sryia but as the book shows it is a harrowing experience .

Have you read any books set during the Algerian war ?

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brian Joseph
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 20:04:26

    I find that this is a tough subject to read about. As you describe it this book has a lot of impact. I think that you raise a good point when you allude to the fact that many people casually discuss and think about subjects like war and torture with no realization as to the horrors involved.


  2. Tony
    Feb 23, 2013 @ 21:53:54

    I’m banking on this one being on the longlist (I’d be very surprised if it wasn’t, to be honest). A very intelligent, thought-provoking book, and very well written and translated too 🙂


  3. parrish lantern
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 08:10:10

    This sounds really appealing & with the authors setting brings to mind Albert Camus, who was French-Algerian, even the philosophy seems to have echoes of Camus with its ideas of humanity surviving in conflict.


  4. parrish lantern
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 08:23:33

    PS. Have found it on Google play & downloaded a sample to try.


  5. Heather
    Feb 24, 2013 @ 14:22:35

    I don’t think I have read any books set in Algeria. I would find this one difficult to read. I have a hard time reading about people getting hurt. Ihave read some set in South Africa and the tortures described were somewhat overwhelming for me. Fortunately they were a smaller part of the story and I could quickly move over them.


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February 2013


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