July 27, 2021

our readings of the week


This week, “Le Monde des livres” has selected two historical works. The first, Only the earth will come to our rescue, is from the diary kept by a survivor of the Armenian genocide. The second tells us about “the other slavery”: that of the Ameridians during the Spanish colonization. Also on the program, humor, with the novel The Linden, from the Argentinian Caesar Aira, the thrill, with The system, by the American Ryan Gattis, but also emotion, in the collection, by David Geselson, of “Unwritten letters”.

TESTIMONY. “Only the earth will come to our aid”, by Serpouhi Hovaghian

Seventy-nine leaves of uncertain writing on a small notebook: this is how the precarious and precious testimony of the Armenian Serpouhi Hovaghian, written between 1916 and 1918, in the midst of the Armenian genocide, presents itself. She lost everything at 22: her husband, Kardig, her daughter, Aïda, a few months old, from whom she was separated during her arrest in early July, her 4-year-old son, Jiraïr, kept with her during the first days of her deportation by forced march, but which she hands over to a Turkish peasant woman by the side of the road.

If her text is available today, it is by a rare combination of circumstances: the author’s escape during one of these marches, in the summer of 1915, her survival among the villagers, then among acquaintances, the Ottoman defeat of 1918, finally, which allowed him to come out of hiding, to find his son in a Georgian orphanage, and to emigrate to France.

In these disparate fragments of history, written in turn in Armenian, French, modern Greek, but also in unrecognizable English, there are recollections of his journey, notes taken daily during his imprisonment, but also extracts from poems. , books or vocabulary lists, as well as draft letters. And beyond the individual experience of its author, the text also makes it possible to grasp the double dimension of the Armenian genocide: implacable at the global level, it was however differentiated, at the local level, according to the assiduity of the murderers, target categories and the age or sex of the victims. Andre Loez

“Only the earth will come to our aid.  Diary of a deportee from the Armenian genocide ”, by Serpouhi Hovaghian, edited by Maximilien Girard and Raymond Kévorkian, BNF Editions, 144 p., € 19.

THRILLER. “The System”, by Ryan Gattis

In Lynwood (Los Angeles County), a drug dealer falls under the bullets of a gunman in front of her home. Witness to the shooting, a junkie gives him first aid and saves his life, before fleeing carrying the murder weapon. Following an ambush orchestrated by a rogue probation officer, it will be found, carefully concealed, in the room of innocent Jacob, nicknamed “Dreamer”. Accused of complicity with his roommate, a proven gang member, he must remain silent and link his fate to the culprit.

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