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1914: A Novel

by Jean Echenoz

Matter-of-fact and detached, this is the story of five young men who went to war. Sometimes funny, sometimes horrific but always disturbing, it would be a perfect counterweight to the lyrical Birdsong.

Extract

It was shortly after encountering this battlefront echo that the troop was suddenly sent right into the line of fire, in some foothills a little beyond the Belgian village of Maissin. Now there was no other option: that's when they really understood they had to fight, had to go into battle for the first time, but until a shell actually landed near him, Anthime had not truly believed it. Once compelled to believe it, he discovered that everything he carried had grown heavier: knapsack, weapons, even the signet ring on his little finger, which was now deadweight and had no power to prevent the return, more painful than ever, of the ache in his wrist.
Translated by Linda Coverdale

Parallels

A Month in the Country by J L Carr
To the Slaughterhouse by Jean Giono
A Very Long Engagement by Sebastien Japrisot
 

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