Original title: Zone blanche
Maxime is a famous musician. He long ago severed his ties with his family and is only very occasionally in touch with his younger brother Christophe. But when Christophe disappears at an environmental protesters’ encampment during a raid by the gendarmes, he joins the search, initially believing it will be but a brief interlude in an existence otherwise governed by ambition and self-discipline.
In this encampment where anti-nuclear campaigners rub shoulders with farmers, radical utopians and misfits to whom fate has been unkind, Maxime makes the acquaintance of his brother’s partner Émeline and their little four-year- old daughter Lilia. As he searches, he begins to reflect on how Christophe, with whom he had a love-hate relationship, conceived of his purpose in life in these surroundings, and he ultimately comes to question his own outlook on life.
Jocelyn Bonnerave demonstrates his talent for collage as he blends childhood memories, ideological struggles, guilty introspection and endless procrastination, plunging us into the intriguing world of environmental campaigners as seen through the eyes of a quintessential Candide. A novel that is a sensitive homage to Rémi Fraisse, a 21-year-old botanist who was killed by gendarmes at the Sivens environmental encampment on 26 October 2014.