9 August 2018

Jean-Louis Fournier: Où a va, Papa ? (2008)

Où on va, papa ? is Jean-Louis Fournier's Femina-winning controversial novelisation of Jean-Louis Fournier's life with his first two (male) children (Mathieu and Thomas), both of whom were born with mental and physical disabilities so significant that they would never be able to read or write, drive a car, have a relationship, have a job, lead a normal life. But then, as the narrator says, what is normal and is it a good thing? The novel is full of black humour, anger at people who don't understand the situation, who for instance brag about the achievements of their own children: the narrator finds this as arrogant and vulgar as a Porsche-owner bragging about his car's performance to the owner of a humble 2CH (or 'Deuche').

There's nevertheless a great deal of humour here, although much of that is black. Would survival have been possible without humour, and anyway is survival in any life possible without humour? The novel relates that the narrator's wife left him after the birth of their third child, Marie, who had no disabilities. Unfortunately, Mathieu dies after an operation for his scoliosis.

Agnès Brunet, the children's mother, published a scathing attack in her blog on Fournier's novel, which she originally called 'Où on va, maman', although for legal reasons some passages were withdrawn, and her blog was re-titled 'La maman de Mathieu et Thomas'.

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