Will I Be Able to Write Tomorrow? | Writer Anne Berest | Louisiana Channel

“I need a void around me.” Meet French writer Anne Berest whose award-winning novel The Postcard has become one of the most popular and acclaimed books published in France in recent years. At once a gripping investigation into family secrets, a poignant tale of mothers and daughters, and an enthralling portrait of 20th-century Parisian intellectual and artistic life, The Postcard tells the story of a family devastated by the Holocaust yet somehow restored by love and the power of storytelling.

“In many cultures, people have a relationship with the dead. We have cut ourselves from that link. Through this novel, I wanted someone young to discover and learn history. I wrote this book to pass on a story that really happened and mustn’t be forgotten. What happened in France, in Europe, the history of the Shoah and the disappearance of Jews in Europe.”

The conception of the book started with an actual incident. In January 2003, together with the usual holiday cards, an anonymous postcard was delivered to the Berest family home. On the front is a photo of the Opéra Garnier in Paris; on the back are the four names of Anne Berest’s maternal great-grandparents, Ephraïm and Emma, and their children, Noémie and Jacques—all of whom died at Auschwitz in 1942.
Almost twenty years after the postcard is delivered, Anne Berest is moved to discover who sent it and why. Aided by her chain-smoking mother, countless family, friends, and associates, a private detective, a graphologist, and many others, she embarks on a journey to uncover the fate of the Rabinovitch family: their flight from Russia following the revolution, their journey to Latvia, Palestine, and Paris, the war and its aftermath. What emerges is a thrilling tale that shatters her certainties about her family, her country, and herself.
“There is something in history that is never-ending. And as soon as there is a crisis in the world and we are going through a crisis, antisemitism comes back. We thought that after World War II, the words fascism, antisemitism would have disappeared from our everyday life, but no. It’s a never-ending story.”

The great-granddaughter of Spanish-born artist Francis Picabia and French Resistance fighter Gabriële Buffet-Picabia (Marcel Duchamp’s lover and muse), Anne Berest is an actor and author. With her sister Claire, Berest wrote a biography of her great-grandmother entitled Gabriële. She is also the author of a novel based on Françoise Sagan as well as the best-selling work of nonfiction How to be Parisian Wherever You Are, which was translated into thirty-five languages. Her novel The Postcard has won The American Choix Goncourt Prize, the Prix Renaudot des Lycéens, the ELLE Magazine Readers Prize and was a finalist for the renowned Goncourt Prize in France.

Anne Berest was interviewed by Karin Mørch at the French Embassy in Copenhagen in November 2022.

Camera: Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Edited by Jarl Therkelsen Kaldan
Produced by Marc-Christoph Wagner
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2023

Louisiana Channel is supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond, Ny Carlsbergfondet, C.L. Davids Fond og Samling and Fritz Hansen.

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