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Suspended Sentences

by Patrick Modiano

A trilogy of scattered memories, full of mysterious relationships and enigmatic strangers, depicts an atmospheric portrayal of occupied and postwar Paris. There is an elusive, introspective quality to the storytelling that helps you reach back in time and live the lives of these ungraspable, shadowy characters.

Extract

Someone tapped me on the shoulder. I looked up but the sun was in my eyes.
'You look pale…'
I saw Jansen only as a silhouette. He took a seat across from me.
'It’s because of the heat,' I stammered. 'I think I was feeling faint …'
He ordered a glass of milk for me and a whiskey for himself.
'Drink that,' he said. 'You’ll feel better afterward.'
I sipped the ice-cold milk. Yes, little by little, the world around me regained its shapes and colors, as if I were adjusting a pair of binoculars to bring them into focus. Jansen, in front of me, looked at me kindly.
'Don’t let if faze you, kid. I’ve fallen into my share of black holes too …'
Translated by Mark Polizzotti

Parallels

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
13 Rue Therese by Elena Shapiro
The Dogs and the Wolves by Irene Nemirovsky
 

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