The Child

160 pages

Trade Paper

List Price US $14.95
ISBN: 9781934137550


ISBN: 9781934137581

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“Intense and bravely uncompromising. An adult study of pain, thwarted affection, and guarded privacies in a world at the edge of violent public breakdown. An impressive achievement.”

David Malouf, author of Ransom: A Novel and The Happy Life: The Search for Contentment in the Modern World

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The Child is a raw look at the cycles of decay that stalk our lives—the violent deterioration of a low-income neighborhood, the physical degradation of a cancer-wracked body—and the unexpected sources of hope that keep us going.”

World Literature Today

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“Kramer is too accomplished a novelist to spoon-feed the reader adult-sized fairytales . . . life itself is comprised of death, of disease, of a boy’s rotten teeth and a lover’s disintegrating body. As a boy grows old and corrupt so does a beloved city and civilization. Life itself has its limits, and so does love.”

Full Stop

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“Kramer’s family portrait is a somber one . . . [an] unindulgent presentation of a world with no illusions.”

Complete Review

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“A singularly moving and disturbing novel about the ambiguity of feelings.”

Le Monde (France)

“You need to read Pascale Kramer’s books because they take you on a journey. You board a small ship that enters the human body, and what you felt while reading follows you for days after you’ve closed the book.”

Elle (France)

“A knock-out.”

Madame Figaro (France)

“A flawless black diamond . . . luminous.”

L’Hebdo (Switzerland)

“A novel with the strength of a stifled cry.”

Le temps (Switzerland)

“Implacable precision, with a stylistic density that brings out the most moving elements of humanity.”

La vie (France)

“This book is a jewel of reserve, delicacy, precision and, in the end, of love.”

L’express (Switzerland)

Simone and Claude live in a house with a lush garden, surrounded by a hedge that barely protects them from the growing violence and unrest in their low-income neighborhood. Simone mourns the loss of youth and possibility as Claude, a gym teacher who has been diagnosed with cancer, edges toward death. This is an unflinching portrait of a couple ravaged by illness and locked into mutual isolation—that is, until the arrival of a young boy brings hope and upsets their delicate danse macabre to devastating effect.

Pascale Kramer dissects romantic love’s psychic carnage while unsentimentally revealing the unique beauty born of an adult’s love for a child. As does Marguerite Duras, she wields spare language like a club and plumbs emotional depths rarely reached outside of poetry. A brilliant collision of hope and despair, The Child is a tour de force.

Pascale Kramer’s novel The Child is translated from the French by Tamsin Black, who has worked as a literary and commercial translator for over a decade. Her book-length translations include memoirs, travel guides, and fiction, including two novels by Pascale Kramer: The Child and The Living. She lives in Bedfordshire, United Kingdom.

Excerpt from The Child

Simone turned out the light in the hallway and waited for her eyes to get used to the thick, heavy darkness of the bedroom. Claude was not asleep. A move under the sheets raised the new, irksome odor of the bed, where he lay distant and frozen, battling with his horror at the slightest contact, the smallest expression of concern. Simone would not get to sleep while she felt him tense and hostile despite himself. It was as though they had turned into thistles for each other. His apprehension of her was the only out- ward sign of the onset of death. Simone knew the exact spot beneath his left shoulder blade where the pain had first started up. There was no seeing it and no reaching it, however much she pressed as he first asked her to, embarrassed to find himself worried—really worried—and bizarrely offended. The word cancer had been a relief to him, since he had at least not been wrong in insisting about the pain. On the X-rays, the milky shadow smudged out the top of his left lung and spread over the pleura and ribs. Claude was irritable and taciturn when he came home from his hospital appointments. He had put up with it for too long and now there was no hope; his one aim was to hurtle to the end as fast as possible. He gave them no option and refused to discuss it. His intolerance of pity and questions was nasty. Simone no longer knew how to love him properly, or, indeed, how to love him at all, and there was no one around to whom she could admit that she had started to resent him for it. The memory of Gaël’s affection and the way he had kissed her with his whole face planted firmly against her cheek continued to make her tingle. Soundlessly, she began to cry about her physical loneliness, imagining that it would be forever.

You didn’t shut the living room blinds. The rebuke broke the silence abruptly, like a dry cough. Simone countered it with slow, regular breathing, as though she were asleep. Tears rolled into her mouth and over her neck. She dared not suggest moving into a separate room, and he would never admit that the presence of his partner in bed with him was unbearable for his body, for his anxiety about death, and maybe, too, for his guilt at abandoning her. Simone wondered how long you could share a painful space guarded against you with such hostility.