V13 by Emmanuel Carrère
France’s renowned nonfiction writer, Emmanuel Carrère, has a talent for recounting historical events and nonfiction prose. In V13, he captures the spectacle of the 10-month trial in the Palais de Justice, known as V13, or “vendredi 13,” a sort of metonymic euphemism for the series of mass shootings and suicide bombings throughout Paris that resulted in 137 deaths.
Carrère has chronicled the trial for The Paris Attacks, or the Attacks of November 13, 2015, since last September until the end of the trial this past June. His weekly columns, which appeared in le Nouvel Observateur, have been edited and published in his new book to include greater insight into what he calls “the architecture of the trial.” Carrère relays to us the quantitative facts and details of the trial, but he also provides insight on the survivors’ encounters with death at the Bataclan, PTSD, and survivors’ guilt. But the real meat of the book is the courthouse theatrics.
V13 organizes and divides the trial into three parts: The Victims, The Accused, and The Court. “The Accused” are literally at the center of this book – and Carrère dedicates the largest chunk of it to them, namely French Belgian-born millennial Salah Abdeslam, the only remaining member of the Islamic State’s commando. This is not to detract away from the importance of the victims, nor is it an attempt of the author to victimize the accused (though one can’t help but think of Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil” used to describe the Eichmann trial). Carrère reminds us that V13 is about a trial, and after all, “a trial is that of the accused.” V13 is not for the faint of heart, as it recounts through numerous testimonies and in graphic detail the “human confetti” of the Bataclan massacre. It is a must-read, though, for those who seek to understand and follow the trial, especially since the filmed footage won’t be released until 2072. (Yes, you read that correctly.)
V13, Emmanuel Carrère, Ed. P.O.L,
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