A Year With My Father


Une année avec mon père – A year with my father- is the title of a newly released book by Genevève Brisac.

As she is getting to entertain some friends, the narrator gets a phone call telling her that her parents have just had a car accident. Her mother has died and her father is in hospital. For one year the narrator wll look after her father. After some time in hospital he has gone back home but he is still fragile and

Two aspects of this book particularly moved me.

Anyone with aging parents will identify with the narrator. She can’t help noticing how vulnerable her father has become both psychologically – as a widower he lives on his own for the first time in fifty years – and physically – he is an eighty-year old man who has been weakend by the accident. Yet he is still the father she has always admired and respected. The two of them have to find new ways of interacting with each other without creating embarrassement on either side.

As the narrator observes her father and remembers moments of his life, she also implicitely questions what it means to be the daughter of a Christian Orthodox mother and a secular Jew. Jewishness is rarely evoked, if at all in the family, and yet they have countless jewish friends, her father’s doctor is Jewish and every now and again her father drops a hint which shows that being Jewish is part and parcel of his identity.

I highly recommend this book if you can read French and hope someone wil translate it into English.