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Additional Information
ISBN: 978-1-931883-94-8
Pages: 168
Size: 5" X 8"
Publication Date: September 10, 2019
Distributed By: Publishers Group West
The author of more than twenty novels, including Aujourd’hui (2005), for which she received the Prix Marguerite Duras, and La Préparation de la vie (2014), in which she pays homage to her mentor Roland Barthes, Colette Fellous lives between France and Tunisia. A former publisher, and a radio producer for France Culture, she is also a photographer. This Tilting World is her first book published in English.
Translator
Sophie Lewis has been translating fiction and other literature from French since graduating from Oxford University in 2004. Following a stay in Rio de Janeiro from 2011 to 2015, she began translating from Portuguese. Her translations include works by Stendhal, Jules Verne, Marcel Aymé, Violette Leduc, Emmanuelle Pagano, Natalia Borges Polesso, and João Gilberto Noll.

This Tilting World

by Colette Fellous
Translated from French by
Sophie Lewis
$16.95

“This Tilting World is a fast-moving reflection on leaving Tunisia following the terrorist attack that killed thirty-eight tourists on the beach at Sousse . . . A meditative nonfiction horror story on the North African coast, This Tilting World crashes over the reader in waves.”—Nate McNamara, Lit Hub contributor

“Colette Fellous writes as a witness, a citizen, an exile, a detective, a daughter, an explorer, a lover. Moving in memory back and forth between Tunisia and France, between childhood, adolescence and adulthood, she makes everything seem part of an urgent now.”—Michéle Roberts

On the night following the terrorist attack that killed thirty-eight tourists on the beach at Sousse, a woman sits facing the sea and writes a love letter to her homeland, Tunisia, which she feels she must now leave forever. Personal tragedies soon resurface—the deaths of her father, a quiet man who had left all he held dear in Tunisia to emigrate to France, and of another lifelong friend, a writer who just weeks ago died at sea, having forsaken the writing that had given his life meaning.

From Tunisia to Paris to a Flaubertian village in Normandy, and with nods to Proust and Barthes, Fellous’s complex and loving story offers a multitude of colorful portraits, and sweeps readers onto a lyrical journey, giving a voice to those one rarely gets to hear, and to loved ones now silent.

Praise

A Must-Read New Book of Fall 2019 —The Observer
11 Books You Should Read this September —Lit Hub
34 Books You Should Read this Fall —Nylon

“This Tilting World is a fast-moving reflection on leaving Tunisia following the terrorist attack that killed thirty-eight tourists on the beach at Sousse. ‘So this is my life,’ Fellous writes. ‘I’m completely exhausted. I don’t know what to do, I cant sleep, I’m mortally afraid, my life is shot to pieces. And my children know nothing of my past. I wanted to explain it in a little private book…. A book is precious; that’s why I thought of you.’ A meditative nonfiction horror story on the North African coast, This Tilting World crashes over the reader in waves.”—Nate McNamara, Lit Hub contributor

“In This Tilting World, French-Tunisian novelist Fellous has written something more intimate than a novel. Translated by Sophie Lewis, This Tilting World is filled with gorgeous, novelistic prose but is also disarmingly personal, illustrated with smartphone photos including a beachfront selfie.” —San Francisco Chronicle

“Colette Fellous’ beautiful book, humming and dancing with sensual intelligence, newly vivid in Sophie Lewis’s deft, delicate, agile version, takes change and translation as its very themes. It asks us to imagine leaving home, searching for a new home. That home may simply be language itself, a web of knot-ted meanings. However, if that web serves as a rope bridge slung between places and people, and the bridge is cut and falls, survival is put at stake. This Tilting World explores how, after such a rupture, one woman tries to re-compose the meanings of her life and thereby go on living.”—Michéle Roberts

“…a reflection—sensitive and honest—on our present, this impossible present, this threshold between yesterday and a complex future, where we ‘see also how our life was entirely manufactured by the political history, even though we thought it belonged to us, that it was “personal.”’”—Diacritik

“A bewitching, hallucinatory elegy to home and exile, love and death, memory and loss. In precise, haunting prose, Fellous evokes the places and relationships, smells and sounds that make up this jig-saw of memories, set against the violence of contemporary events in Tunisia and France.”—Natasha Lehrer

“Colette Fellous isn’t lacking an address, but has two homelands: her birthplace, Tunisia, and her language, French. Between them is an arc, a tension, an energy: that of a double belonging which does not alienate but provides an opening.”—Le Monde

“Fragments: the result of dispersion, of destruction perhaps—but also the indispensable ingredients for a promise of reparation… Faced with hopeless violence, the eye remains alert and leads the front-line for the gentleness which Colette Fellous learned from Barthes, so that the moment of hiatus is calm and bright—a redemption. This book interrogates our reaction in the face of a world in shreds.”—Le Monde Des Livres

More Praise for Colette Fellous

“Beyond the sadness and the loss, is a great seductive energy—we are drawn by a wish to live and to learn—and Fellous’s inimitable way of regarding the world.”—Madame Figaro (for Un amour de frère)

“Without nostalgic yearning, lithe and fluid in her way of capturing the coruscating nature of words, Fellous weaves past and present into a labyrinth of a book in which she shares her passions: writing, tuning herself to the world and untangling with relish the threads of reality and of thought.”—Le Magazine Littéraire (for La préparation de la vie)

The author of more than twenty novels, including Aujourd’hui (2005), for which she received the Prix Marguerite Duras, and La Préparation de la vie (2014), in which she pays homage to her mentor Roland Barthes, Colette Fellous lives between France and Tunisia. A former publisher, and a radio producer for France Culture, she is also a photographer. This Tilting World is her first book published in English.
Translator
Sophie Lewis has been translating fiction and other literature from French since graduating from Oxford University in 2004. Following a stay in Rio de Janeiro from 2011 to 2015, she began translating from Portuguese. Her translations include works by Stendhal, Jules Verne, Marcel Aymé, Violette Leduc, Emmanuelle Pagano, Natalia Borges Polesso, and João Gilberto Noll.
Excerpt from the book

I must say again, before I finish this book, that for a long time, as a child and adolescent, I lived in fear. Everywhere, too many silent ­glances warning that some accident was close at hand. It wasn’t very clear but the violence or disaster seemed imminent. I didn’t know it was fear—I realized much later—but this nameless thing overwhelmed me, besieged me, submerged me, held me hostage. Ungraspable, it ­never left my side. Fear of the unspeaking faces that I encountered in the street, fear of an invisible violence that I sensed clearly but to which I could give no words. This was my inner experience, this was what shaped me, what I grew up on. I was a nervous child, I felt like an orphan even while my parents surrounded me with the best they could provide, I think it was their fragility that made me so nervous, the fragility in which they’d been mired from birth and perhaps even long before. They seemed so hapless, with no understanding of their own lives or of life itself, at all. And then there was the city. The battered sidewalks, the window bars on dilapidated buildings that were never repaired, the whitewash that peeled off in great flakes during the winter, the doors swollen with moisture, the strange skin diseases we saw on passers-by, leprosy, smallpox, bonnets worn to cover lice infestations, the torn dress of the enormous beggar-woman on the synagogue steps, surrounded by her great baskets and her dazzlingly white dog for which she knitted multicolored coats; that’s all she did: he was well dressed while she was in rags. All of this was strange and did not match up with my schoolbooks in which the poems and great texts bestrode the centuries, marked and measured them: each era had its own language and each of them was stunning, astonishing, the paper smelled so good, I wanted to sink into them, I wanted to be of books, and far from what I saw all around me. Even the synagogue felt incongruous on the Avenue de Paris: it was huge. I pretended to be a very happy child so I’d pass unnoticed and, more than anything, so as not to spread my fear in a home already teetering in fragile equilibrium.  

I went on like that, saying nothing, making out it was fine. In any case, a great task awaited me: I had first of all to mend my parents, to darn their holes, heal their wounds, organize their lives, but how to go about this? So today I’m holding my baby father in my arms­—this is what I’ve done all my life: cradle him, cradle them both in their innocence and sweetness, and even cradle what I call the country, never knowing exactly what I mean by the term. Tunisia or the long-past memories of my parents? I don’t know. I held them up so they would not collapse. I chose reading to help me discover the best way of going about this. I chose pleasure. I chose love. Sensations, stories, shades of meaning. Now I think I got it all wrong. I should have been harder, sharper, more violent. I should have fought some other way. But that’s how it was: every time I was transfixed by the modest attentions of the people I met, by the delicacy of a gesture or by the extraordinary way a life was retold, the crucial detail dropped in at precisely the right moment; every time the laughter united and strengthened us, you have to come here to understand and to love the very humblest intimately for they are magnificent. And then there was the balmy wind, the kiss of the air, the pale colors, the blue, white, gray, and all this beauty of the sea right out to the horizon, the movement of the skies that followed one after another, ever renewed, these helped me to camouflage the tensions and the charged, sometimes jealous or malevolent looks—yes, we had those too. Still, I should have gone about it differently.