A World That Was Ours

Original title: De notre monde emporté

Author: Astolfi, Christian

Publication Date:

April 2022



Original language and publisher

Territories Handled

Worldwide excl. French


Literary Fiction


  • Prix Eugène Dabit du roman populiste 2023 (longlist)
  • Prix Jean Amila-Meckert 2023 (winner)
  • Prix du Livre France Bleu - PAGE des Libraires 2022 (winner)

A World That Was Ours

Original title: De notre monde emporté

Author: Astolfi, Christian


His writing is in his image: quiet, honest, efficient. One hundred and eighty-three self-sufficient pages, which are gentle in the struggle, poetic even in the description of the violence of class relations. — Copelia Mainardi, Marianne

A moving and accomplished work, which carries in its pages the disenchanted song of a generation. With this magnificent novel, which carries all the experience of a lifetime, Christian Astolfi preserves a whole world from being swallowed up, by the force of his sentences. […] It’s beautiful, it’s noble and you come out of it with a bigger heart. — Nicolas Mouton, Page des Libraires Magazine, April issue

This novel, as beautiful as a chanson de geste, inscribes the glorious and tragic history of workers in the legend of the centuries. — Astrid de Larminat, Le Figaro Littéraire

It is this world that was ours, carried away by fire, iron, grease, sweat, cries and fury that Christian Astolfi restores. — Didier Hassoux, Le Canard Enchaîné

It is masterfully well written, moving, and chilling too. — L’Alsace

This book, with its short and refined sentences, vividly recounts the grief that settled in these abandoned worker bastions. It is a work full of emotions, moving, with sober and precise writing. — La Provence

It’s this world that was ours, a world swept away that is recounted in this violent novel, which also is full of nuances, delicate, warm… dignified. — Pierre Lescure on the national TV Show “C à vous”

Without manicheism, De notre monde emporté pays tribute to them and celebrates, with lyricism and sobriety, the spirit of camaraderie that encourages some to stand up for the justice of all. — Laëtitia Favro, Livres Hebdo

Sensitive and nuanced, this novel enriches the literary history of deindustrialisation. — France Bleu

A real coup de coeur for a great writer and a new publishing house determined to shake up our hearts and brains to make them hear and listen to the noise of the world. — Page des libraires

We were gripped by the power of this story from the very first pages. Christian Astolfi transports us to this vanished world that he was able to resuscitate with so much precision and sensitivity, without ever giving in to manichaeism. He managed to turn this local tragedy into the subject of a great novel on deindustrialization and superbly embodies the “noise of the world” [Le bruit du monde] that we wish to make heard. — Marie-Pierre Gracedieu and Adrien Servières, co-founders of Le bruit du monde

I grew up in the 1980s, the decade when the process of deindustrialization in France began, without the population being aware of its consequences. Publishing a text that offers a tribute to the work done in these places, while avoiding any form of manichaeism or didacticism, fits perfectly within our editorial perspective. Christian Astolfi upholds the memory of that world, all the forgotten crafts, its monumental, manmade constructions, but also confronts its infamy, its conflicts, and its oblivion. The shipyards were a place of labor where people suffered, got hurt, and sometimes died, but they were also somewhere they could laugh and dream about travel, love, and a brighter future.  — Marie-Pierre Gracedieu, Publisher of Le bruit du monde

Born in the port, and having grown up with the sights and sounds of its industry, Narval is proud to take his place among the gruff and hardworking shipbuilders of Seyne-sur-Mer. Not only is he following in his father’s footsteps, but also that of a tradition stretching back over a century. Conditions are tough, the work often brutal, but the men of the docks have their dignity and, above all, their bond.

As the 1970s draw to a close, however, the future looks uncertain. There is less and less work and, soon, despite the promise of a newly elected Socialist president, Narval and his companions must face the closure of the shipyard and the loss of their jobs. For all they protest, the world is changing, and they are being left behind.

In lucid and sensitive prose, Christian Astolfi depicts the deindustrialization of the 1980s through the life of a worker as he confronts the political and social upheavals that beset France at the end of the 20th century. Resounding with understated melancholy, Narval’s bittersweet reminiscences not only offer a distinct perspective on the grand movements of our recent history, but, through their insight and humanity, shed light on intimate moments of affection, joy, and companionship which, despite life’s disappointments, provide us all with glimmers of hope.

  • A social and political chronicle of the end of shipbuilding in the South of France
  • Friendship, love, and the brutal realities of struggling workers recounting in sensitive and touching prose
  • A son fighting to realize his father’s dreams

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