“Night Blue”, by Dima Abdallah: the man who wanted to forget his past

Midnight blue

Dima Abdullah

Sabine Wespieser, 232 pages, €20

Already in his first novel, the bewitching writing of Dima Abdallah had dazzled us. Like a river rolling its words in a fiery stream, Weeds (1) sang of the desperate love between a father and his daughter, from childhood upset by war in Beirut to adulthood and exile in France.

It is in Paris that this author, born in Lebanon in 1977, sets her second novel, which proceeds from the same writing imbued with a melancholy poetry to tell the painful past, the stifled present, the blind future of a man. Dima Abdallah lets this torn narrator pour out, who doesn’t want to pick up the pieces of his life but rather annihilates himself, dissolves in the asphalt of the city. He spent “many springs, many autumns” locked up in his home after the death of the loved and yet neglected being. Then one day – March 21, 2013, he notes in his notebook – he decides to leave, throwing the keys to his apartment in the gutter.

Then begins a pedestrian wandering that he recounts in a poignant monologue. Memories of a happy time in an elsewhere that one presumes to be Lebanon, hatch in his consciousness: cousin Hana and her green apples, his grandmother Alya who always sang him the same lullaby, his mother finally, Nour and its unique scent… These sparks from the past are rekindled by his wanderings, he who would so much like to extinguish them. “The madeleines have a rancid and bitter taste, my dear Marcel” he writes…

The fear, the loneliness, the cold…

His week is enlightened by his meeting with women, each in a specific place, beings just as lost as him but whom he infinitely respects in their flouted dignity. Martha and her body “who rejects the outside”, rue des Amandiers. Aimee “abandoned by itself”, collapsed on an air vent, avenue Gambetta. Carla the frail cashier of the Franprix rue des Pyrénées. Layla, a warrior princess stranded on a piece of sidewalk rue du Retrait…

→ CRITICAL. Patrick Modiano in the mists of oblivion

In the endless count of the passing months, his appointments are not enough for him. The narrator is constantly harassed by cold, loneliness, remorse, always fear. Also tormented by this midnight blue that covers one’s life like a shroud, the blue of a frightening night lived in the past… How far can one go to forget who one was? Can one only be reborn into another self? These questions asked subtly by Dima Abdallah haunt the wounded man. “I am the tightrope walker on the wire stretched above the abyss of memory. I must not fall. »


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