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Mur Méditerranée, de Louis-Philippe Dalembert
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Mediterranean Wall (“Mur Méditerranée”), by Louis-Philippe Dalembert

The latest book from writer Louis-Philippe Dalembert draws inspiration from a true story as it tells the tale of three women in exile, each with different social and geographical origins. This “crossing novel”, in the words of the author, narrates the risky journey between the two shores of the Mediterranean Sea.

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Early memories of Haiti

Born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti in 1962, Louis-Philippe Dalembert is a poet and writer who works in French and Creole. He worked as a journalist before moving to Paris in 1986, where he studied comparative literature.

 

Ten years later, after several collections of poetry and short stories, he published his first novel God’s Pencil Doesn’t Have an Eraser (“Le Crayon du bon Dieu n’a pas de gomme”, 1996): inspired by his own life, it focuses on themes of identity and movement. A major event of the 2019 autumn literary season, his new novel Mediterranean Wall (“Mur Méditerranée”) tackles the issue of migration.

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A topical novel

“Night had fallen over Sabratha when one of the jailers entered the warehouse. The sun withdrew suddenly, giving way to an inky sky from which the pale crescent of the moon and the first stars of the surrounding desert emerged.” Thus begins Mediterranean Wall, on the Libyan coast, where smugglers herd would-be exiles like cattle.

 

Among these women, Chochana and Semhar, Nigerian and Eritrean respectively, will soon enter the hold of a fishing boat. On the bridge above, Dima, an upper-class Syrian woman, is also trying to leave her country of origin. The fates of these three women come together on the roads of exile.

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Travelling to Lampedusa

Louis-Philippe Dalembert, who visited the famous Italian island of Lampedusa to observe the way people respond to the arrival of exiles, was inspired by a true story: the rescue of a migrant boat by the Danish oil tanker Torm Lotte in 2014.

 

Inspired by the land and the people he has met, the writer continues to explore his favourite themes: identity, exodus, and exile.

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A well-recognised voice

Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters since 2010, Louis-Philippe Dalembert has received many awards, including the 2017 Prix Orange du Livre for his novel Before the Shadows Disappear (“Avant que les ombres s’effacent”) (2017).

 

An eternal traveller who has received support since the 1990s from the most prestigious institutions (Villa Médicis, Centre National du Livre, etc.), his latest book, Mur Méditerranée (2019), received support from the 2018 Mission Stendhal programme, which allowed the author to spend time in Italy.

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The Institut français and the book

Louis-Philippe Dalembert benefited from the support of the 2018 Mission Stendhal programme, which allowed him to visit Lampedusa to write his latest work, Mur Méditerranée. Learn more about the Mission Stendhal programme