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

4.9 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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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: 10.9 x 2.3 x 17.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 63,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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La vie devant soi


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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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By JB on 4 April 2015
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Romain Gary archieves what might be thought to be impossible; a captivating story of love, coming of age and courage in the heart of a diverse Parisian underworld community through the eyes of a child. All this without a hint of patronisation or sentimentality. This is a brilliant unforgettable book.
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By Robust 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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