“Song”, d’Eduardo Halfon – Libération


Today, the story of a grandfather, childhood memories and a trip to Japan.

After Bereavement in 2018, Eduardo Halfon resumed his quest for identity in a book devoted exclusively to his grandfather. The Guatemalan author is invited to Japan to participate in a congress of Lebanese writers, a nationality claimed by his ancestor. Only, the latter is Syrian since at its birth in 1901, Lebanon does not yet exist (the country was officially created in 1920). Eduardo Halfon has never set foot in this country: “I arrived in Tokyo disguised as an Arab.”

He mixes his memories of his trip to Japan with those of his childhood to tell about his grandfather whose first and last name he bears. In a style where everything is said in very few words, we embark on its story where truth and lies no longer matter.

Among all the reminiscences that shape his family history, he recounts the kidnapping of his grandfather in January 1967 in Guatemala. “My grandparents lived in a palace”, he said, letting imagine the wealth of these in a country as poor as it is corrupt. The guerrillas prosper there by kidnapping the rich capable of paying ransoms. Eduardo Halfon’s grandfather is one of them. Through the history of Song, the guerrilla butcher and the sublime Sara who keeps him in captivity, the author beautifully retraces the complexity of the man who was nicknamed “Turk” like all Arabs.

Song by Eduardo Halfon, translated from the Spanish (Guatemala) by David Fauquemberg. The “Quai Voltaire” Round Table, 176 pp., 15 euros.

Source: Libération by www.liberation.fr.

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