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Entertainment "The Last Interview" of Eshkol Nevo, a jubilant novel about life as it is

16:12  21 october  2020
16:12  21 october  2020 Source:   francetvinfo.fr

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An Israeli writer who looks furiously like the author answers frankly and quirky questions from Internet users about his life and his work. The whole forms a novel steeped in humor, full of second degree and self-mockery.

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He is 43 years old, successful, is the pen of a politician who has the wind in his sails, travels the world to meet his readers but of course, "any resemblance to an existing person or having existed is purely fortuitous ": this sentence could be in the foreground of each chapter of the last novel of Eshkol Nevo. But there is no chapter. The author responds in an imaginary way to the questions of Internet users no less imaginary, with a totally jubilant pen. Adherents of self-mockery do not abstain. The last interview, with Eshkol Nevo (translated from Hebrew by Jean-Luc Allouche), was published by Gallimard editions on August 20, 2020 (466 pages, € 24).

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The story: a successful writer answers Internet users' questions about his life, his work, his country ... Through his answers, the portrait of a man is revealed in whom, behind a facade of success, everything leaves in tatters: his wife is about to leave him, his daughter doesn't want to talk to him anymore, the politician whose pen he is secretly blackmailing him into continuing, and his best friend is die of cancer. To each question without apparent coherence, an answer draws up an inventory which makes us progress towards an inevitable outcome. All with a devastating humor that plunges us without warning into the intimacy of the characters. The author blurs all the boundaries between reality and fiction, sailing through his imagination with a real talent as a storyteller.

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The art of being yourself

At the beginning, the questions seem quite classic during meetings with writers: "Have you always wanted to be a writer?", "How is organized your working day? ”,“ How autobiographical are your books? ”. Usually, the answers to these questions are measured, weighed, or even slightly tongue-in-cheek. This time, Eshkol Nevo responds bluntly, triggering the hilarity of readers that we are, not used to this politically incorrect frankness: he admits to being only a storyteller who uses the stories of others to make his own quarrel with those around him who can no longer bear his continual lies.

We can of course recognize the narrator himself in hollow, thanks to the description of his grandfather for example, one of the prime ministers of Israel. But these small elements corresponding to reality are nothing compared to the art of hiding everything else. This is how Eshkol Nevo describes the art of being yourself, which according to him is the art of blurring the lines.

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The Benny Hill of Israeli Literature

The question-answer form also allows you to tell short stories, short, very funny snapshots, like the one where the writer takes a taxi to Jerusalem. The driver has a Jewish name but is clearly Arab. During the whole journey, the narrator wonders what is wrong, and ends up becoming totally paranoid: "In a moment, he will go and rush onto a remote track where the other members of his commando are waiting for him. If I have to die. now, I said to myself bluntly, that obviously means I won't sleep with that girl from Mount Scopus again. Never again. Not that it's really possible. Years have passed, and she's now tied to someone else. , and me too. But to hell with this fatality of death! "

Or when he relates the meeting with his readers which marked him the most, in Damascus in Syria (before the war). During the family meal which precedes his departure, he asks his father-in-law this incongruous question:

- "And, in Damascus, what is worth visiting?

- Why, you have Do you plan to go there soon? "he chuckled.

- I have to go to Izmir, and I thought about going there," I replied (sometimes the truth is the best lie).

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The whole table laughed out loud. "A few weeks later, the unrepentant blundering writer, with his Swiss passport (the Israelis being obviously persona non grata in Syria) crossed the border to meet his Damascene readers, and finds himself humming a Hebrew song in the van: "The driver gave me a surprised look in the rearview mirror. 'Beautiful melody', I hastened to clarify, and he looked at me again, his eyes wrinkled by mistrust, while continuing to roll. "The 466 pages of the novel are to match, punctuated with smiles, emotion and frank bursts of laughter e, with a dark and tender humor that keeps us in suspense until the last line. E n thus drawing up the self-fictional portrait of a writer, it is in hollow the portrait of an entire country that Eshkol Nevo draws, a country also steeped in contradictions.

"The last interview", by Eshkol Nevo (translated from Hebrew by Jean-Luc Allouche), published by Gallimard editions on August 20, 2020, 466 pages, € 24.

Extract: "I remember Doron, the oldest cousin, taught us to drink tea with a lump of sugar stuck between our teeth as the hot liquid flowed through it. And I remember that Once Shalhévet Freier had caught me in the middle of a mischief in the living room. He noticed my hand, already stretched out towards the silver sugar bowl, seized it, and said with a heavy German accent: "It's not a treat, my boy. "I must have looked panicked as he hastened to release my hand, handed me a bar of Splendid bitter chocolate with these words, 'Take this instead.' I hated bitter chocolate, but I got it. Something in the tone of Shalévet Freier made me understand that it was better not to discuss.

A few years ago, he died. A newspaper reported in the eulogy published under his photo that he had been Director General of the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. So with some delay I understood where he came his deterrent. "

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