The search warrant by Patrick modiano
Original title – Dora Bruder
Translator – Joanna kilmartin
Source – personnel copy
it’s a mystery to me, the game commences
For the usual fee, plus expenses
Confidential information, it’s a diary
This is my investigation, it’s not a public inquiry
I go checking out the reports, digging up the dirt
You get to meet all sorts in this line of work
Treachery and treason, there’s always an excuse for it
And when I find the reason I still can’t get used to it
Dire straits private investigations struck me as a great song to match this book .source
Well every year when the nobel betting starts a couple of names that are vaguely familiar but haven’t read or in some case have read but before I blogged crop up in the betting for the winner .Well this year Patrick Modiano is this years writer I’ve not read and a quick check of my library only showed three of his books but in French ,so I brought the only English version of his books available on kIndle .Patrick Modiano is a French writer born to an Italian father and Belgian mother , he toured with his mother who was an actress growing up , with his brother ,but his brother did age ten , all hos early books are dedicated to him , patrick Modiano in his writing life has won every major prize in French literature including the academy prize and the prix Goncourt .
Thus I came to learn that Dora Bruder and her parent were already living in the hotal on the boulevard Omano in 1937 and 1938 .They had a room with a kitchenette on the fifth floor , the level which an iron balcony encircles both blocks .The level with ten or so windows .Two or three give on the boulevard the rest on to the Rue Hermel or , at the back the Rue Simpion
When I revisited the neighbourhood in on that day in 1996 .I noticed that the rusting shutters to the two end fifth floor windows overlooking the Rue Simpion were closed ,and that on the balcony outside there was a collection of miscellaneous objects ,seemingly long abandoned there .
The past meet the present all the time in this book .
The search warrant , is the story of Patrick Modiano and his looking into the life of a young Jewish woman Dora Bruder , he first comes across her name in an old Newspaper report from 1941 .Something in the report is familiar from his own childhood and he decides to find out all he can from official records about this fifteen year old girl .As the story unfolds Modiano finds more and more this young girls life and his own have crossed although he never met her , his father had been in the same places and done things at the certain times , that crossed over with Dora’s life at the time , such as the time she enters a convent in an attempt to escape the Nazis , the life is told in glimpse of files of the time and then Patrick going to these places at times as well .He follows the French police reports of her as they search for this girl .
I track down Ernest and Cecile Bruder’s niece .I talk to her on the telephone .The memories which she retains of them are those of childhood , at once fuzzy and sharp .She remembers her uncle’s gentleness , his kindness .The few details which I have noted down about their family come from her .She has heard it said before they lived in the hotel on the boulevard Omano , Ernest Cecile and their daughter Dora had lived in another hotel a street off the Rue des Possoniers .I looked at the street map , and read her out a succession of names .Yes that was it the Rue polonceau .But she has never heard any mention of Sevran nor of Freinvile , nor of the westinghouse factory
Discover the past of Dora’s life and her family .
The origin of this book came from Patrick Modiano and another writer talking about the nature of memory .The book reminds me of the saying any one person in the world is only six people removed from any other person in the world .The story of Dora Bruders is one of a sad life , and ultimate early death in Auschwitz .At times in this book , I was reminded of Sebald and his style of writing ,Modiano is very much a character in his own book something Sebald did a lot in his fiction , his past becomes intertwine with a girl he never meet but only discover via a small piece in a newspaper a sort of detective story without a crime just uncovering the past bit by bit .Now is this a book from a Nobel winner in waiting , I’m not sure I really have been bowled over by Modiano’s style and will be looking out for his books second-hand it looks like Harvil published him here in the UK, I imagine in Christopher Maclehose’s time there it seems like a book he would choose to publish in English .
Have you read Modiano ?