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The Children Who Came After Them (Leurs enfants après eux)

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Original Language: French | 432 pp. | August 2018

2 Seas represents: Dutch, Nordic, and North American rights.

LITERARY FICTION

August 1992. One afternoon during a heatwave in a lost valley somewhere in eastern France, with its dormant blast furnaces and its lake.  14-year-old Anthony and his cousin decide to steal a canoe to find out what it’s like on the other side at the famous naturist beach. The trip ultimately takes Anthony to his first love and a first summer that will determine everything that happens afterwards – the drama of life starts for him here.

In this book, Nicolas Mathieu conjures up a valley, an era, adolescence, and the political journey of a young generation that has to forge its own path in a dying world. Four summers and four defining moments, from Smells Like Teen Spirit to the 1998 World Cup, which capture the hectic lives of those living in that intermediate France of the medium-sized cities and their quiet residential estates, astride the countryside and the concrete expanses of the outer suburbs.

It is also the portrait of a France far-removed from the centres of globalisation, alternating between decency and rage. A France where almost everybody lives, and which many people would like to forget.

Nicolas Mathieu was born in Épinal in 1978. After studying history and cinema, he settled in Paris where he engaged in all sorts of educational activities, most of which were poorly paid. In 2014, Actes Sud published his Aux animaux la guerre, which was adapted for television by Alain Tasma. These days he lives in Nancy, dividing his time between writing and his official job.