“My short stories are like the weathercock on a lighthouse at sea: they point towards a land that I have been to in my long voyage from Paris to the Mediterranean, from which I then weighed anchor for other shores. Perhaps it is because I like working in intense and brief bursts that I write these short stories? A hundred metres rather than a marathon? But that would overlook the fact that historical short stories require a huge amount of research work, which I often do in local archives in the places I visit. Each new short story is a milestone, a staging post linking me to my personal history and to the history of the world.”
XXL OR THE HISTORY OF THE HUMAN-LUNG
“Dear reader, please download my short story, XXL, which I wrote in 1999, for free.It was the violence of this world that was to show its true face on 11 September 2001 – the face of Hatred – that inspired me to write it.In March 2007, there was a public reading of XXL in the Nikki Diana Marquardt Gallery, Place des Vosges, in Paris. For Nikki, there was nothing new about giving the world’s eternal suffering a voice. A few years earlier, she organised a demonstration called “Algeria – I will never leave my friends“. It was a way of giving Algerian intellectuals a part in the publication of 2028 and XXL.”
Click on the cover to read XXL.
Humanity is reinventing itself…
One day the Higher Council of Humanity decides that mankind should no longer think, but just breathe. We then see a physical mutation in human beings, who become human lungs. A few centuries later, one of these humanoids, by force of desire, wakes up and creates a new idyllic humanity. But conflict rumbles on in the margins of this society under the iron hand of a sole leader, XXL.
Reading of XXL by Eve Bitoun and Charlotte Marquardt, at the Marquardt Gallery in Paris.
THE WINE OF THE ABYSS
“I arrived in Sicily on the morning of 11 September 2001, in flat calm after sailing 48 hours on a choppy sea from the Balearic Islands. The Colombaïa fortress, the Erice cliffs – the sumptuous Trapani Peninsula – Roman Drepanum. The Akaï Sango nosed up to the key. On their Vespas, the customs officials said somebody had bombed New York”
Le Vin des Abysses came out in no. 14 Spring-summer 2009 issue of the Siècle 21 littérature et société review.
Le Vin des Abysses, translated into Italian, won the Erice Anteka literary prize in 2009.
13th Century: The Crusaders are on the road to ruin in Sicily
At the age of 16, she has the chance to experience an extraordinary adventure: she crosses the Mediterranean in a ship with the Queen of France. She will witness the wreck of the fleet of St Louis’ eighth crusade on 21 and 22 November 1270, in the Bay of Trapani in Sicily.
“With my boat I took part in the underwater archaeological dig to find the remains of St Louis’s fleet in Trapani bay. This film documents the work.”
THE THREE TABARKAS
“In autumn 2003, I left Sicily. It took one night to cross the strait from Sicily. The next day we were gliding over the blue tinted waters of the port of Sidi Bou Saïd in the Bay of Tunis. Tabarka is a peninsula that has become an island on the Tunisian/Algerian border. This is Tunisia’s Normandy, lush and green by the sea.”
Les trois Tabarka came out in no. 10 Spring-summer 2007 edition of the Siècle 21 review.
18th Century: Pirates attack the Genoese fort of Tabarka in Tunisia…
The hard life of Giovani Mendrice, an inhabitant of Tabarka. Sent as a slave to the Tunis prison, he succeeds in uniting Spain.
Thérèse Fournier is on the board of The Green Country: North West Tunisia association, Le Pays vert: La Tunisie du Nord-Ouest. It was for The Green Country that she wrote the theatre play Romeo and Juliet in Tabarka.
This 10-minute film recounts the history of the Genoese fort of Tabarka and of its inhabitants.
“Cape Trafalgar, in walking distance from Cadiz, where I was conceived – my father was an engineer building the Rota naval base. I went back for the turn of the century in 2000, after, of course, having gone down the Seine, sailed around France and the Atlantic side of the Iberian Peninsula – you do not reach the Mediterranean until after Gibraltar. The site of Trafalgar is now known for the bars of its hippie beach, Canos de Meca, and its surf beach.”
Trafalgar came out in no. 16 Spring-summer 2010 edition of the Siècle 21 review.
19th Century: Slaughter off Trafalgar…
He was a surgeon on board the French flagship at Trafalgar, and saw everything, heard everything and lived through everything on 21 October 1805 at the naval Battle of Trafalgar. In an open letter, he accused Napoleon of being directly responsible for the defeat and flew to the aid of Admiral Villeneuve, who was being held responsible for the disaster.
“Scores of bodies horribly mutilated by machetes, headless, arms torn off, lying in rows on the ground. The YouTube images made me gag. The catastrophe of the inter-ethnic violence, onto which terrorist violence is superimposed, has spared no place on earth, particularly not Nigeria with its 181 million inhabitants, or Jos, the capital of the high plateaus. And in spite of it all, we keep on loving and living in hope.”
Jos came out in no. 17 Autumn-winter 2010 issue of the Siècle 21 review.
20th Century: In Nigeria the Fulanis attack…
In Nigeria, on the high plateaus, the Shamaki family narrowly escapes the massacre.
MOUNA AND SHEIMSDOHA
“I first encountered Morocco in 1985. It was a powerful shock for the “Roumi” that I was – “the Christian”, is what they called me. A Mediterranean country, temperate in the north, Morocco has a long Atlantic coastline, and heats up as you near the desert. Trips into the Middle Atlas looked like nativity scenes – there, time had stopped, and unchanging rituals were still being performed just as they always had been from time immemorial.”
Mouna et Sheimsdoha came out as no. 25 in the Autumn-winter 2014 issue of the Siècle 21 review.
Leaving, in the evening
On the eve of her marriage, in the Morocco’s Middle Atlas, Sheimsdoha leaves her native village to go and live in her husband’s village.
TRAIN DE NUIT
“A woman who has not seen the lit-up spread of the big city usurp the black of the countryside sits right up against the window of a night train. It is on a frenetic race to modernity, which ends by coming to a complete stop in the lagoon of the station”.
The Night Train came out in no. 13 Autumn-winter 2008 issue of the Siècle 21 review.
The night train runs through a lit-up conurbation and goes into the station.
The short story The Night Train read by the author.
THE CONCERT FLUTE
“I was declared to be a talented musician – they gave me two instruments, a piano and a concert flute which stayed with me until I reached adulthood. What happens to these instruments that saw us through our childhood?”
The Concert Flute came out in no. 15 Autumn-winter 2009 issue of the Siècle 21 review.
At the speed of sound
Our car is going along the motorway – my mother is at the wheel. The radio is playing Bach, I am sitting on the back seat and we are playing the game “what instrument can you hear”? My mother is afraid that electronic sounds will distort my ear.
THE BIZERTE FIG TREE
Bizerte – the setting for part of Nador, the third novel of my Arab Trilogy. It is also where Bertrand Delanoë, the former Mayor of Paris, was born. When I visited Bizerte in 2009, after five years away, hardly had my boat nosed into the quay than Mohammed, who has a little souvenir shop at the end of the quay, rushed towards us yelling “Lola!”, with the ritual chewing-gum for the little girl. I ended up buying her a little shark with its stuffing falling out, negotiating by the understanding we had built up over the years.
Le Figuier de Bizerte came out in no. 22 Spring-summer 2013 issue of the Siècle 21 review.
The fig tree sailing on the sea
The epic of a fig tree in a pot, bought by two children in Bizerte and taken to Catalonia in a boat.
The Île d’Yeu, yew tree island off the Brittany peninsula, is a pivotal point when sailing north-south. Once you are past Calvados, the Channel, Finistère and Morbihan in Brittany, off the south coast of the Brittany peninsula you are back into the “hallmarks” of the south – wind, light, and spirit. The Île d’Yeu then opens up its arms to you. I went there in 1999, and anchored in Anse des Vieilles bay. When they asked me to take part in the Île d’Yeu short story competition in 2015 I was almost relieved – Yersinia was a new way of celebrating my wedding with the island of a thousand tastes.
Yersinia won an award in the Île d’Yeu short story competition.
Set eyes on the Île d’Yeu and be healed…
Cassard is an unrepentant navigator. On board his tugboat, the “Mouflon”, he has crisscrossed the high seas with his sailor Kamo and his dog. But he is told that he is a carrier of the plague bacillus. Only a druidess on the Île d’Yeu can cure him.