Chavirer by Lola Lafon
Fontenay, a Parisian suburb, 1984. Chloé is 12 when her parents prod her into taking ballet classes. She drops out after a long year of feeling lost, not classy nor graceful enough, and undoubtedly not as rich as the other kids.
By chance, she signs up for Modern Jazz class at a MJC–a state funded organization whose mission is to provide access to art and culture to all children.
Modern Jazz is her calling, and soon Chloe is transformed, working out constantly, dreaming of becoming a professional dancer. That’s when she catches the attention of Cathy, an elegant middle-aged woman, who is a talent scout for Galatée–a foundation that gives fellowships to exceptionally gifted teenagers.
Fascinated by Cathy and the many gifts with which this providential “godmother” is showering her, Chloé introduces her to her parents, receiving their blessing to spend more and more time with her, ultimately falling prey to Galatée’s trap…
After The Little Communist Who Never Smiled (Seven Stories Press, Actes Sud) and Mercy Mary Patty (Actes Sud), Lola Lafon continues her exploration of the psyches of young girls–their fragility, their resilience–with Chavirer. Just like Nadia Comaneci and Patty Hearst, Chloé is a young girl whose destiny bears witness to the violence inflicted on women in our societies. In novel after novel, Lola Lafon has successively reflected on the failures of communist (Ceausescu’s Romania), capitalist (Nixon/Ford’s America), and social-democratic (Mitterand’s France) governments to protect their most vulnerable citizens. How can we not identify with Chloé–a teenager crushed by her own dreams and not having known to renounce them in time? The words of Lola Lafon have perhaps never been so shattering as they are in Chavirer. It is unquestionably one of the most beautiful novels from this year’s rentrée, and simply a beautiful novel on its own!
Chavirer, a novel by Lola Lafon, Actes Sud
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