Original title: Les Sables
With this first novel, Basile Galais is breathtakingly precise, armed with a powerful, surprising, sometimes poetic and more often than not caustic style. Each sentence is the promise of a cognitive experience that awakens all the senses. […] The author is daring, and the style so sharp and accurate that it is impossible to stop reading. At once a world of today and that of an imagined, possible, frightening tomorrow, The Sands proposes a journey into a city where humanity seems to follow a unique and disturbing path. — Valentine Costantini, Actualitté
A first novel is always a feast. […] With The Sands, it exceeds all our expectations. […] The strength of The Sands lies in its ability to immerse us in an immediately tangible universe, while everything around us seems virtual, not to say unreal. Thus, in this immersive experience, the materiality of the body imposes itself as the last bastion. […] This fog is counterbalanced by a writing that is neither vaporous nor artificial. Like the greatest names in detective fiction, Basile Galais knows how to put all our senses on guard. In a permanent state of alert, we can then carry out the investigation with him and see the significance of details which, without him, we would never have paid attention to. — Marianne Fougère, Toute la culture
It is a port city of right angles and massive blocks of concrete and glass built on sand; a city that stands out against the sky like a battlefield. And from the outset the atmosphere is electric, the stormy weather and the force of the elements seeming to mirror the souls of the city’s inhabitants and their destinies. A number of silhouettes come spiralling into focus and sweep us up into a story of disappearances and oblivion.
Marlo, an ‘off-screen’ kid, Ester, the young teacher of linguistics, Gaspar, the struggling artist, Alexander, the man in white who has lost his powers, Maeva of the two faces, Dennis, the pirate of parallel worlds, and Henri, the ageing revenant, are all caught up in a series of disturbances that send their solitude and environment into a tailspin.
The city has been partly amputated but doesn’t remember it happening; fake news is on a loop on all the screens; people feel giddy as they walk; and something is being created and then destroyed right before our eyes. Everything is in motion, there is constant audio feedback, and the disturbances affect everyone differently, calling into question memories, truth and the future.
And beneath the blind (or perhaps clairvoyant) topaz gaze of an old woman of the streets who attracts the birds like a magnet, the whole world seems to waver.
Les Sables is an improvised inquiry led by characters who are not cops but people like you and me whose focus is the original riddle. It is an immersion in a directly palpable universe whose chromatic richness is an adventure in itself – an exploratory novel that turns the elusive into an artwork and a destination.
What captivates with Basile Galais is the high definition of the images that he is effortlessly capable of producing and the contrast between this striking clarity and his skill in sculpting a mystery. And it is in his particular way of creating an ultra-present and a modernity in suspense that one can unequivocally detect the subtle influence of one Don DeLillo.
- Selected for the Prix de la Vocation et de la Poésie 2022