The French writer Olivier Adam invites us to start the year with a family drama that describes the terrible reality of some fathers.
The pandemic will have brought us at least one good thing: everything can be forgotten, the new novel by Olivier Adam. “In principle, this book should not have been released in January because it should not have been completed!” Explains the writer, who we could reach at his home in Paris. But during the first confinement, we were totally locked up at home without any solicitation of any kind. So I took refuge in work, and I shot the equivalent of six to twelve months of work! “The result is a well-crafted story, the plot of which takes place between Brittany and Japan.
Before this damn coronavirus spoiled our lives, Olivier Adam was indeed going regularly to Japan. “I have stayed there several times, maybe ten times,” he confirms. It is therefore a country that I think I know and that I frequent in high doses with its cinema, its filmmakers, its literature … But even when we deeply love a country, there is always a part that remains elusive to us and that is what will happen to Nathan. He will come up against a facet of Japan that he could not suspect and which will prove to be very cruel. “
In the name of the law
Like Olivier Adam, Nathan Forsberg has often been to Japan, and more specifically to Kyoto. It is also there that he met Jun, the pretty Japanese Francophile who agreed to follow him to France, in the small coastal town of Brittany where he has an independent cinema.
But if Nathan and Jun had a child, they unfortunately did not live very long happily together. In fact, they will already be divorced by the time the novel begins. As for their little Leo, five years old, he will go and live sometimes with one, sometimes with the other. At least for a while. Because one fine morning, without notifying anyone, Jun is going to fly to Japan, taking Leo with her.
“In Brittany, there are a lot of Franco-Japanese couples,” explains Olivier Adam. In the town I used to live in alone, there must be at least five or six couples like this. So while reading the newspapers, I came across this frightening thing. Japanese women who return in hiding to their country of origin without telling the father. And when the latter tries to find wife and child (ren), things tend to get quite complicated. “
What we did not know (and that we discovered while reading everything can be forgotten !) is that Japanese law is very different from ours in the event of divorce. There, parental authority cannot be shared and joint custody is simply not recognized. In other words, only one parent has a legitimate right to have custody of the children and generally this right rests with the mother. If the latter returns to Japan for good, the father may lose his children forever.
An impossible situation
As soon as he realizes that Jun is gone for good in order to take advantage of Japanese laws, Nathan will do what many distraught fathers have done before him: go find the mother, and even hire a private investigator who is used to dealing. that kind of business.
“The love story that unites us to our children is supposed to be unconditional and cannot end, unlike male-female relationships,” says Olivier Adam. If you are a parent, you can easily imagine the horror it would be to see our child abducted and no longer be able to have contact with him. Nathan’s situation will therefore quickly become Kafkaesque: his wife disappears, their kid is kidnapped and when he goes to Japan in the hope of seeing his son again, he will be the culprit. So that’s how he will also come to discover the Japanese legal system, which is really very hard. ”
Even if it is not a thriller, Everything can be forgotten keeps us in suspense from beginning to end. Because we want to know how it all started – and got out of hand – between Jun and Nathan, but above all because we want to know whether or not Nathan will manage to see his son again one day. “The course of the book goes straight, and the suspense is not about the facts, but about the reasons, adds Olivier Adam. There are no revelations. It’s a book in love with Japan, and a book that shows its darker sides. Rather than denounce, I wanted to hold up a mirror and tell the reality of things in their complexity. In short, a book that we won’t soon forget.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my [email protected] 1-800-268-7116