And Their Children After Them
Mathieu won France’s prestigious Goncourt prize for this absorbing Nineties narrative set in a French valley community left stranded by the decline of industry. It’s loosely centred on Antoine, 14, who escapes his warring parents to dabble with booze and girls. When he borrows his dad’s motorbike to get to a party without asking, only to wake up to find it stolen, we’re primed to expect a plot-driven coming-ofage drama. Instead, the novel unspools in more leisurely fashion as a multi-viewpoint panorama of thwarted aspirations, spiced with breathy sex scenes and nostalgic detail.