Gilles Marchand’s new novel is both about the Great War and a touching love story all told in the vein of Boris Vian. Winner of the Prix des Libraires 2023, it has sold 30,000 copies. Translation rights have been sold for two languages.
Paris, 1920s, a veteran is tasked with finding a soldier who disappeared in 1917. While searching the battlefields, and questioning witnesses and soldiers, he uncovers, amoung the thousands of stories he is told, each more incredible than the last, the amazing love story that the missing soldier lived while going through hell.
"I wanted to write about the First World War, but also about the aftermath of the war because it's less well known. We get the impression that on November 12, in France, we took out the accordions and lanterns and put the rest behind us, but we know that it is more complicated than that, and that all the broken families needed time," explains Gilles Marchand whose The Dissonant Soldier is his fifth novel.
For his research, he read books by historians and writers who fought in the war, listened to broadcasts and podcasts broadcast in honor of the anniversary of the First World War, and visited the Verdun and Somme sites.
"When I was in Verdun, I saw how the terrain had been disrupted and I was completely stunned to see how a century later the earth had not yet healed," explains Gilles Marchand, who "has written a very well-documented, poignant, light yet serious novel, full of contrasts fantasy and poetry," according to the literary magazine Traversées.
This blend of gentle and magical realism, reminiscent of the works of Boris Vian, Romain Gary and Georges Perec, immediately seduced the French public. Nearly 30,000 copies have been sold since its release, and the novel has received numerous awards, including the Prix des Libraires 2023. It has already been published in Italian, and the Spanish version will be released in 2024.
Targeted at adult as well as YA readers, this novel is an account of the absurdity of war and a way for the "poilus", the last of whom died in 2008, to continue to be heard.