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The Independent: “Utterly compelling in its psychological understanding.”

Date: Jul 25 2015

This novella, its author recalls, is based on a story told to him by a photographer, Benoit Gysembergh, whilst he was reporting on the “Arab Spring” in 2011. It’s a war story told to Gysembergh by his grandfather about his own experience after the First World War. Almost one hundred years later, Rufin turns what he calls a “short, simple anecdote” into a beautifully memorable and unusual story about war and what it does to us. Morlac is being held prisoner in a country jail for a criminal act that is not specified until the end of the book. He is visited by Major Lantier du Grez, who tries to persuade him to apologise for this act and so avoid a prison sentence. All the time Morlac is imprisoned, his dog sits in the square, barking day and night until it collapses with exhaustion. Members of the town sneak food and water to it, signs of compassion that sit in stark contrast to the acts of war that have so recently taken place. Utterly compelling in its psychological understanding.

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