18 October 2016

Irène Némirovsky: David Golder (1929; repr. 2004)

Irène Némirovsky (1903–42) is certainly best known for Suite française, which was eventually published many years after her death in 2004 and won the Prix Renaudot of the same year.

But David Golder, her first novel, was first published in 1929 and details the end of the life of the Jewish businessman of the name of the title. Having led a life of risky business ventures and gambling for high stakes, Golder has dragged himself from poverty to wealth, and then back again. He now has a bad heart condition, an unfaithful wife who lusts for more money, and an uncaring, avaricious daughter who keeps asking, in fact demanding, more money from him to satisfy her desire for travel, sex and adventure in general.

But the reader doesn't pity Golder, doesn't in fact pity anyone in this tragic story of greed and ruin. I'm not too sure how Némirovsky's other novels read, but the comparisons should be interesting. As a first novel, though, I'm not over-impressed with this.

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