• Last week before the Goncourt award ceremony, on November 3.

  • Like last year, you will be able to designate the Goncourt prize for readers of "20 Minutes".

  • Among the four finalists, “Milwaukee Blues” by Louis-Philippe Dalembert, published on August 26, 2021 by Éditions Sabine Wespierser.

Christian Dorsan, novelist, blogger and contributor to the

20 Minutes

Books

reading group

, recommends

Milwaukee Blues

 by Louis-Philippe Dalembert, published on August 26, 2021 by Éditions Sabine Wespierser.


Her favorite quote:

The first thing we do here, as soon as we have earned a little money or landed a more or less decent job, is to get the hell out of it.

Anywhere, as long as it's outside of Franklin.

Just to savor the feeling of having crossed a milestone in life.

Without that, we stay there vegetating, like a tree that would wither on its feet.


Why this book?

  • Because behind a news item, there is not only the emotion

    aroused by anger or injustice.

    There is a human history, a history attached to a place which centralizes all the determinisms maintaining the prejudices of an entire nation.

    And this place is a disadvantaged district of Milwaukee, the history and that of George Floyd revisited by Louis-Philippe Dalembert.

  • Because constructed as a self-fictional choral narrative

    in the first two parts, it is Emmett's childhood and youth that is told to us by his childhood friends, his schoolteacher, his college football coach and his first white girlfriend. Emmett's first name was not chosen at random: it was that of a young black man who was murdered for having kissed a young white girl. These chapters are intimate confessions that shed light on the victim's life. There is a lot of bitterness in a wasted life, a life from which you cannot escape from your condition.

  • Because Emmett's life is shared by the other inhabitants

    of this district, of this ghetto abandoned by the public authorities.

    There emerges from these successive portraits a sort of resignation in the face of the poverty of the destinies that it offers.

  • Because the last parts are part of the story,

    we leave autofiction.

    What was in the past remains intimate, what happens in the present is on the public record as if the author wanted to bring us closer to the victim before he became a symbol of revolt.

    The story is a rebellion but also a plea for fraternity whose testimony of the police officer, by his racism and his hatred of others, seems excluded.

  • Because it is a poignant novel, written by an author

    who does not appropriate the codes, he holds them perfectly, he is not a usurper who would abuse a news item to write, it is a writing of the interior, rich, human and universal.


The essentials in 2 minutes

The plot.

 Following an arrest, a black suspect dies of suffocation by a racist police officer.

Behind this news item, largely inspired by the George Floyd affair, the author tells us about everyday racism.

Characters.

 Emmett the victim, Authie and Stokely the childhood friends, his former college coach, his first girlfriend, his former schoolteacher, Reverend Ma Robinson, the racist policeman, the locals

Places.

 Milwaukee with the neighborhood of Franklin Heights and Chicago.

The time.

 America in the Trump years.

The author.

 Louis-Philippe Dalembert is a poet novelist of Haitian origin.

Several times awarded for these novels and his poems, he has taught in France and in the United States.

This book was read with

 passion even if the change of register during reading is surprising.

There remains a very beautiful portrait of men and women, who seek to live normally in a divided and fragile country.

It is also a book of hope and universal.

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