A Year With My Father

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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.

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11 thoughts on “A Year With My Father

  1. If you were sitting in my living room with me, maybe I would attempt it in French. Until then, we all await the translation.

    Something about Jewish father and Christian mother seem to be a common theme in a lot of books. Are Jewish men more likely to marry non-Jewish women than Jewish women marrying non-Jewish men? The alienation in youth, escapism, then the recapturing as a mature adult of one’s heritage and identity.

    • I remember reading that in mixed-couples, fathers seem to impress their religious identities more strongly than mothers. I wonder why.
      As far as Judaism is concerned, pity it isn’t the other way round!

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  3. Leora, in previous generations men were much more likely to marry out, hence the stereotype of the Jewish man being drawn in by a shikse. I remember when a friend in high school had a Jewish mother and non-Jewish father, my mother was surprised. Things have changed, though, and the numbers have evened out.

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  5. Sadly I don’t think my French is up to it anymore either (such a shame, and to think that I used to write papers on medieval French literature in university…) but it does sound like an excellent read.

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