Via Steve, Tadzio Koelb's Irène Némirovsky and the Death of the Critic. The title rather says it all, I think.
The scope of Suite Française, had it been finished, would certainly have been remarkable, taking in the whole of the occupation, with dozens of characters, both French and German, and a storyline featuring violent murders, daring escapes, forbidden loves and more. It is not finished, however, and lasting art requires more than broad scope. Several French novels about the war have been celebrated by francophone readers but met with indifference in the English-speaking world, for example The Last of the Just by André Shwartz-Bart, a magisterial work of art and probably the best work of fiction ever written about the Shoah. Given the relative differences in popular response, we must wonder whether Suite Française would have been so favourably received in the UK had it not been for the incredible circumstances of the book’s composition, and the horrors that left it unfinished (more...)