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Mercy, Mary, Patty

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Original Language: French | 240 pp. | August 2017

2 Seas Represents: Dutch, Nordic and English (North American) rights.

Selected for the Prix du roman Fnac

NOVEL

In the course of an interview which is so one-way as to feel like a trial, a voice addresses itself to Gene Neveva, an emeritus sociologist and star professor at the prestigious Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. For several weeks in 1975, Gene Neveva, who was then an English lecturer in the French provinces, immersed herself in the profusion of archives relating to the Patty Hearst affair in an attempt to bolster the defence of the young woman, who was accused of having espoused the cause of her kidnappers. To assist her in this painstaking archive research, Gene Neveva enlisted the services of her best student, the very discreet Violaine. For one of them it was a decisive encounter, and a quickly forgotten interlude for the other. Centred around a defining event of the age and three destinies which are ‘kidnapped’ by the attempt to grasp the enormity of its ramifications, Mercy, Mary, Patty is a novel of a rare intensity which examines the viral nature of transmission – the scandal and transgression of it all residing in the notion that to choose one’s path in life, one must jettison all one’s affiliations, and even one’s very identity.

A writer and musician, Lola Lafon is the author of three novels published by Flammarion: Une fièvre impossible à négocier (2003), De ça je me console (2007) and Nous sommes les oiseaux de la tempête qui s’annonce (2011), now available in Babel. In 2014, Actes Sud published La petite communiste qui ne souriait jamais, which was enthusiastically received by the press and booksellers alike.