This Tilting World
“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.
“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)