Lives Other Than My Own
Author: Emmanuel Carrère; Translated from the French by Linda Coverdale
SELECTED BY THE NEW YORK TIMES AS ONE OF THE 50 BEST MEMOIRS OF THE PAST 50 YEARS
“You begin this memoir thinking it will be about one thing, and it turns into something else altogether—a book at once more ordinary and more extraordinary than any first impressions might allow.”—The New York Times
“Moving…Carrère’s prose is precise and measured…Through interviews with friends and relatives of both families, he creates powerful portraits that celebrate ordinary lives.”—The New Yorker
Award-winning author Emmanuel Carrère's, Lives Other Than My Own is an act of generous imagination that unflinchingly records devastating loss and, equally vividly, the wealth of human solace that follows in its wake.
In Sri Lanka, a tsunami sweeps a child out to sea, her grandfather helpless against the onrushing water. In France, a young woman succumbs to illness, leaving her husband and small children bereft. Present at both events, Emmanuel Carrère sets out to tell the story of two families—shattered and ultimately restored. What he accomplishes is nothing short of a literary miracle: a heartrending narrative of endless love, a meditation on courage and decency in the face of adversity, an intimate and reverent look at the extraordinary beauty and nobility of ordinary lives.
Precise, sober, and suspenseful, as full of twists and turns as any novel, Lives Other Than My Own confronts terrifying catastrophes to illuminate the astonishing richness of human connection: a grandfather who thought he had found paradise—too soon—and now devotes himself to helping his neighbors rebuild their village; a husband so in love with his ailing wife that he carries her in his arms like a knight does his princess; and finally, Carrère himself, longtime chronicler of the tormented self, who unexpectedly finds consolation and even joy as he immerses himself in the lives of others.