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La Vie Devant Soi (Folio) (French) Paperback – 3 Feb 2007

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La Vie Devant Soi (Folio) + La Vie devant soi de Romain Gary (Émile Ajar) (Fiche de lecture)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Editions Flammarion (3 Feb 2007)
  • Language: French
  • ISBN-10: 2070373622
  • ISBN-13: 978-2070373628
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 10.9 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,969 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jo Anderson on 5 Jun 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Romain Gary wrote this book under the pseudonym Emile Ajar, and won the Prix Goncourt for the second time ! It is translated into English by Ralph Manheim as The Life Before Us ("Madame Rosa"). It must be very difficult to capture the flavour of the original French, and perhaps the translation is a little on the formal side, for the author's French style gives the feeling of a child speaking the story, and is full of deeply embedded language jokes.
But the setting of this story is quite stupefyingly sordid - a group of small children who are the offspring of prostitutes, looked after by a very large and ugly Jewess, herself a former prostitute, and a survivor of Auschwitz. You might be reluctant to read such a catalogue of horror with its cast of streetwalkers, pimps, transvestites, fire eaters and other lost souls, but the book is, above all, wonderfully funny, touching, amazing in its originality, and carries clear messages about the way we are prejudiced, about the role of doctors and the lives of unwanted immigrants. To read this book is to experience a different life with a vengeance, by means of a black humour which is as effective as it is brilliant.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A hilarious account of street life at the bottom of the ladder in cosmopolitan 1970's Belleville, Paris, expressed through the half-understanding eyes of young Mohammed. He is being brought up by a retired Jewish prostitute called Rosa who fosters the accidental children of her professional colleagues. Life is tough but full of characters, Jews, Arabs and Africans competing for the monopoly of being the most persecuted - and yet somehow radiating optimism. The women (not to mention a transvestite ex-boxer) go out to `defend themselves' on their reserved patches on the streets of Paris and in the Bois de Boulogne. But poor Rosa is nearing the end of her life, and an inevitable forthcoming consignment to hospital is perceived by her as a repetition of what she went through when she was rounded up and sent to concentration camp during the War. To keep up her spirits she keeps a portrait of Hitler under the bed. As far as I can remember it is the funniest book I have ever read, and a perfect lesson in the French that we should really have been taught in school.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Consumer A VINE VOICE on 23 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The most amazing book I have read. Read this many years ago and it still has such an impact. Very funny at times and yet poignant. Story told by a young boy - from his viewpoint. Roman Gary submitted this book under a pseudonym - Emile Ajar. This book is wonderful because it also is easy to read for not very advanced French speakers. The translation- A Life Before Us - is an excellent translation for non French speakers.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Il faut aimer 15 Jun 2000
By "ochichornyje" - Published on
Format: Paperback
When I read it for the first time 12 years ago it left a deep impact on me. And now it doesn't stop touching me. This is one of the most amazing books I've ever read. It would be also interesting to know about the author,Roman Gary(also known as Emile Azar) I highly recommend this book and hope you have time to think about life, childhood and love... as the author said at the end of the book, "Il faut aimer".
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A wonderful book 24 Nov 2000
By bookaddict - Published on
Format: Paperback
I read this about ten years ago, when I asked friends to recommend the best books they'd read. It is the story of a young arab boy who was abandoned by his whore mother at his Jewish babysitter's, a retired prostitute herself who now cares for others' children, while they work or while they are on the run from the child welfare workers or in jail. The young protagonist is always told by the adults around him: " you have your whole life ahead of you" as if that is a wonderful thing. He looks at the old blind man who teaches him arab ways, the housebound old woman who cares for him, the transexual prostitute who lives next door... all the adults around him from whom life has stolen happiness, joy and health, and he considers the saying to be more a curse than a blessing. This book is a wonderful slice of life in the harder parts of post-war Paris, where he grows up, and discovers he does want to live life after all. Beautiful, haunting, and peopled with unforgettable characters. I highly recommend it.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Charming and sad 22 Jan 2010
By George C. Stone III - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful book written from the point of view of an 8 year old, Momo, an arab orphan being taken care of by an old Jewish woman, Mme Rosa, a survivor of Auschewicz. It's about how they support and protect each other in the slums of Paris (he's the son of a prostitute and she's an ex-prostitute.) There's much more to this novel than this review can cover. One of the best books I've read.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Great Read!!! 4 Aug 2013
By contente - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's the kind of book you would want to keep close for a very long time. Since it was written from a child's perspective, it is great for someone who is learning french as a foreign language. Highly recommended.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The past and the future... 29 July 2013
By Marc L - Published on
Format: Paperback
Read this in French. The special thing about this book is the storyteller: the - supposedly - 10-year old Momo, living in Paris, son of a prostitute, but now living with Mme Rosa, on the sixth floor in a very multicultural district of Paris, in the seventies. Mme Rosa too is a former prostitute, of jewish descent (survived Auschwitz).
Momo describes the very difficult situation of the ageing Rosa, his love and care for her, his conversations with arabs and africans in the neighbourhood. Gary does this in a very elaborate way, so that halfway in the book, there's a lack of suspense.
But then Rosa gets sick, her situation is told by Momo in very distressing way. The outcome is dramatic and hilarious at the same time.
This is not the best book by Gary (he wrote it under an alias to avoid stereotypical reviews), but is certainly is a Multi-layered, heartrendering story about aging in a modern city and the innocence of youth.
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