Pushkin Press, £12
The Man who Walked through Walls, By Marcel Aymé
Boyd Tonkin is Literary Editor at The Independent. An award-winning journalist, he was formerly Social Policy Editor of the New Statesman and has broadcast extensively for BBC arts and current affairs programmes. He has judged the Booker Prize, the Whitbread biography award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the David Cohen Prize for a lifetime's achievement in literature.
Saturday 28 July 2012
This landmark collection of fantastic tales from 1943 may sound whimsical – but their oddity pivots on the grim, if veiled, reality of Paris under German occupation.
Aymé, well-served by Sophie Lewis's assured translation, outwitted the Nazi censors in teasing, troubling gem such as "La Carte" ("Tickets on Time"), in which the authorities decide "to put unproductive consumers to death"; or rather, to curtail their monthly ration of life.
Grasp the context, and Aymé's surreal humour acquires a shadowy depth of field.
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