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David Foenkinos. “I had a near death experience with a famous tunnel”

With the charm and flair we know him for, David Foenkinos signs a new novel. And continues to weave a tender and universal work.

In Happy life!, his new novel, David Foenkinos directs a romantic comedy with melancholy and inimitable charm. It all boils down to a Korean ritual, which means that by facing one’s own death, literally putting it in a coffin, one finds the taste for living… We in turn follow Eric, the senior executive of Decathlon, whose ancient tragedy has been broken, and Amelie, whom Macron the government commissioned a trip around the world to extol the virtues of France to foreign companies. The first decides to leave the private sector to the public when the second, a former classmate, contacts him through Facebook. A business trip to Seoul will change their lives forever. With great skill and subtlety, the writer weaves, unfolds and reworks their trajectories, playing on missed opportunities and second chances, somewhere in between. When Harry met Sally And Lost in translation.

Madame Figaro. – Happy life! back to a recurring theme for you Death and resurrection…
David Foenkinos. – Hence Charlotte Salomon’s sentence at the beginning of the novel. “To love life even more, we had to die even once. » Approaching death can be beneficial. I learned it at 16; Then I had a heart operation and was hospitalized for many months. I had a near death experience with a famous tunnel, the feeling of leaving my body and stopping as I went to the other side, only to turn back. It transformed me, but I’m no different than many people who have been seriously ill. My relationship with others and beauty was transformed, I began to want to read, write… This is where we find ourselves To beauty And Charlotte The idea that art can comfort and give emotional meaning to existence. My primary reading of the world has since been summed up in one word: sensitivity.

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Is the ritual that allows your hero to come back to life real? ?
Yes, and it is a real phenomenon in South Korea. You should know that the number of suicides in this country is very high. It is about a very complex society where the collective suffocates the individual, where discomfort is everywhere. The ceremony I am talking about, which is individual in the novel, is actually collective. We dress in white, there are candles, and everyone puts their photo in front of the coffin, with their epitaph, a few biographical lines, then they enter the coffin, where they stay for an hour, immersed in darkness. Physically experiencing one’s own ending is an experience from which people come out transformed. I found very strong testimonials on Korean forums. It also happens to us when loved ones die. we meet death and for a while we tell ourselves that we are going to fix everything, to change our relationship with life… It is generally in vain, our mind is fast; Obsessed with trifles, but essential, this drive of momentum nevertheless arises in the face of death.

Did you notice Charlotte Salomon’s sentence after or before you knew you were going to give her a show with Audrey Tautou? ?
Before ! Charlotte, a novel, He studied a lot at school, I keep his memory alive, like with this sentence or the show of the same name, which was just presented at La Seine Musicale with Audrey Tautou. There is a quote by Patrick Modiano that I love. “I was 20 years old, but my memory denied my birth.” It was as if memory exceeded our limits, and as if writing consisted in the search for this memory… Audrey is very happy and fulfilled, she decided to stop her career for a while, and for five years now everyone has been a little fantasizing; bringing him back. He changed our lives, me and my brother (Stefan Foenkinos, Casting Director, Writer and Director, Editor’s Note). When he agreed to film Subtletythe film came together and it was magical… for Shaw Charlotte, so I “tried” as I had tried ten years ago, and he replied, “Listen David, I’m not telling you no.” It was great! I’m especially happy to find her, but also to have her back to highlight outside of my book, Charlotte Salomon. He, who is very sensitive to painting and art, was very moved by what Charlotte said. I’m also happy that the show was directed by the brilliant Jeremy Lippman, and the music was provided by David Bowie’s bassist, Gail Ann Dorsey. Charlotte Salomon has always considered that her work is also a sung and theatrical work. So we brought together the music, the story of his life, the projection of pictures, a kind of sound and light in this noble room of the audience of La Seine Musicale… Ten years after the publication of the book, I could not; You don’t have a better gift.

We couldn’t see either Happy life! a revised romantic comedy ?
This is an idea that makes me very happy. If this ritual plays a key role, I wanted above all to organize the crossover of man and woman, in fact. I’ve never written a long-term love story where people know each other at a young age, lose sight of each other, find each other again, miss each other… That’s basically it; When Harry met Sally around the coffin – this novel. I really like the idea that over time we change, our view of others also changes, so that after a certain number of disappointments, difficulties, life collapses, in short, initially incompatible people become incredibly compatible. In their 20s they don’t look at each other, in their 30s they work together but miss each other, and in their 40s they are armed with new evidence. I liked the characters, especially him, a damaged warrior who draws a new truth about himself from his failures and disappointments and finds rest, especially in his relationship with the children. She has always been broken, while she is a warrior, a woman of strength, a powerful woman who finds herself powerless, especially in the political world where, like actors in the movie world, we are at the mercy of others’ desires.

It’s my novel When Harry met Sally around the coffin!

David Foenkinos

It’s rare that you immerse us in such a modern world…
Yes, most of my novels are disconnected from it. Perhaps that is the reason why they are so popular abroad, because there is something timeless about them. But Happy life! in staging this strange Korean ritual, I had to counterbalance this strangeness with great precision in dates; Eric’s career in Décathlon or political life behind the scenes of the senior civil service, and Macron with Amelie, who “sells” the virtues of France to foreign companies. I’m very interested in both of them, and you could say that one of the common themes of the book is the self-weariness that both of them feel at different times in their lives, the existence of… And then, more prosaically, I needed a job that could guide them. to Seoul as part of a professional mission. Two partners who meet at the end of the world, in the evening, in the rain… And this is where we find the romantic comedy.

happy life

Source: Le Figaro

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