“The informers were on the lookout, ready at the first pretext to send the Lubyanka letters likely to send any deviant to prison. It was a letter of denunciation from a prominent member of the Union of Soviet Writers that led to Mandelstam being arrested in May 1928. the intellectuals of Vietnam ruled by one party, to be the targets of informers? »

These lines are taken from Linda Lê’s latest book, De personne je ne fus le contemporain (Stock), about the meeting in Moscow in 1923 between the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam and the Vietnamese independence activist Ho Chi Minh. And as so often his work powerfully echoes what we experience. Both on a collective level, as the writer takes us on the great planet of literature, and on a personal level, with novels on the mourning of loved ones, Lettre morte, the report to the mother, Je ne I will never again answer for anything, the rages and the frailties of the soul. At all times, the book was the remedy. Already there, or desired. “I dream of a book of mourning and rebirth, of death and sensuality, a book that would save me from myself, that the thought of suicide has always accompanied”, wrote this passionate reader, who, in the demand of her writing, explored the most ineffable of being with that high literary bearing that characterizes his style.

“Reading is living”, named after a famous show by Pierre Dumayet and Robert Bober, could well have been a watchword for Linda Lê, whose name is as beautiful as a haiku verse. You have to reread all her titles, such as Au fond de l’inconnu to find something new (and re-scroll the covers of her books that she chose), to already penetrate the rare, incisive, burning, and remarkably mastered at the same time, of the novelist, who died Monday, May 9, following a long illness, while she was still writing every morning in the hospital. And read, until the last moment (“an Albanian author”, confides Dominique Bourgois, who was his long-term editor and friend). And what generosity was a writer who “helped her respond to the authors of rejected manuscripts by going so far as to read them to find the right and not totally discouraging words”!

It is indeed in the catalog of Christian Bourgois editions, before her recent arrival at Stock, that the work of Linda Lê, born in 1963 in Dalat, Vietnam, flourished. She had discovered French literature at the French high school in Saigon, before arriving with her mother and sisters in France in 1977. And published her first novel written in French at 23 years old. In 2019, the Prince Pierre of Monaco prize honors all of his work. Far from the mute young woman with whom Christian Bourgois had lunch with him in his early days, Linda Lê has never ceased to overcome obstacles, fought against her demons, and recently against a ruptured aneurysm which almost cost her her death. life. In this journey, the most faithful companions were the books, on which she wrote for a long time in the Literary Magazine, and more recently on the website of Waiting for Nadeau.

“I would waste away if I read less,” she told Bertrand Leclair in Le Monde des livres. “Reading is living”, which suits the author of Complexe de Caliban so well, is a formula that could unite her with another writer, from a very different generation and universe, but who curiously also has writes on these figures of rebels, resistance fighters and poets, Marina Tsveaïeva and Mandelstam. They have in common the exile of countries at war, one from Vietnam, the other from Lebanon: Linda Lê and Vénus Khoury-Ghata even heal their souls by reading and always advance further by writing in their nuptials with the French language, the one they have chosen.



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