22 December 2007

Marguerite Duras, The Lover, 1984

This is the briefer version of the same story covered in Marguerite Duras’s later alternate novel The North China Lover. It’s a book that seems to be universally popular, looking at a young French woman’s romantic encounter with a Chinese man in Saigon while exploring her own family’s less-than-straightforward internal relationships, and Duras never goes for the superficial when she can go several layers deeper. Within the first few pages it becomes a book that makes you suspend expectations and instead shows itself to be a small gem of unconventionally personal writing: you know it won’t end in any upbeat manner, and you can’t avoid the feeling that it’s also largely autobiographical because the emotional points of reference are all so vivid. A quietly memorable book for how Duras somehow takes you on an almost lifelong journey in so short a number of pages.   PY


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