Heed our Defeats

Original title: Écoutez nos défaites

Author: Gaudé, Laurent

Publication Date:

August 2016



Original language and publisher

French | Actes Sud

Territories Handled

Netherlands, North America, Scandinavia


Historical Fiction, Literary Fiction

Heed our Defeats

Original title: Écoutez nos défaites

Author: Gaudé, Laurent

  • 2 Seas Represents: Dutch and Nordic rights.
  • Rights sold: Portugal (Porto editora/Sextante), Italy (E/O edizioni), Spain (Sureda57 libros – Castillan), USA (Europa Editions), Arabic (Dar Al Mada).
  • Over 100,000 copies sold.


“If one recognizes the talent by the breath of a novelist, then Laurent Gaudé is a great writer. Heed our Defeats is a great poem, a crazy and wise book. Mad because one is carried away by all these voices and one does not know by what magic, except by the contented lyricism of Gaudé. ” — Mohammed Aïssaoui, Le Figaro Literary

“The originality of Laurent Gaudé’s novel, which must be called audacity, is to have mixed the story of Mariam and Assem with the narrative of three wars, of which we follow throughout the book the twists and turns adventures. ” — Bernard Pivot, The Journal of the Sunday

“Laurent Gaudé can write calmly. His book, which beats the pulse of the world, reminds us of the duty not to hate our own fatigue. For that alone, for his melancholic way of giving to see what dominates us, he is interested in the historian of power. Because literature, whether discreet or vehement, is made historical only to give us news of our current history. “ — Patrick Boucheron, professeur au Collège de France, Le Monde des livres

“Irrigated by the breath of the great rebellious poets, crossed by the themes dear to Laurent Gaude (violence, migrations, myths), Heed our Defeats is a powerful political novel that dares to face the pain of the world and ends on a soft murmur, antidote to the dark times. ” — Sophie Joubert, L’Humanité

Assem, a wearied French intelligence officer, is sent to Beirut in search of a former member of the elite American commandos suspected of trafficking. He meets Mariam, an Iraqi archaeologist trying to save treasures from the museums of bombed cities. The brevity of their time together is matched only by the seismic power of its impact. Their separate paths mirror each other and are punctuated by the epic tales of past heroes – General Grant crushing the Confederates, Hannibal marching on Rome, Haile Selassie standing up to fascist invaders…

A troubled, melancholy novel that asserts the inanity of every war, and proclaims that only humanity and beauty are worth dying for.