Saturday, June 23, 2007

Critique Littéraire

They're tough on writers in France:

Five farmers from a tiny hamlet in central France stood trial this week on charges of violently attacking a writer they accuse of revealing their family secrets to the world in a tell-all novel.

Pierre Jourde says his 2003 novel "Pays Perdu" (Lost Country) was an attempt to get under the skin of Lussaud, a village of 20 souls nestled in the green hills of the Cantal region, where his family roots go back three centuries and where he has spent every summer since childhood.

....Names and dates have been changed, but the two dozen residents of Lussaud -- Jourde's friends and neighbours, whose family stories are intertwined with his own -- easily recognised themselves and their kin.

In July 2005, when Jourdes arrived with his wife and three children for their annual summer stay, they were immediately encircled by six or seven of his neighbours, hurt and angry at what they had heard.

Quickly the scene turned nasty. Panicking, Jourdes says he punched one man to make him back away, sparking a volley of blows as well as racist insults against Jourde's children, who are of mixed race.

The writer's 15-month-old baby was hurt by flying glass in the face when stones shattered his car windows. Another of his sons was chased down the road under a hail of stones, before the whole family was hounded out of the village.

"It was a scene of collective hysteria, of unfettered hatred," Jourde said at the time. "I've known these people all my life, they're my neighbours."

Badly shocked by the attack, Jourde has not set foot in Lussaud since.

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