She made an appointment on the heights of Ménilmontant and arrived from Les Lilas on an electric bike that she would get on two hours later to go “Coach rappers” at the other end of Paris. After having traveled a lot, worked in the humanitarian sector during the war in the former Yugoslavia, made development aid in the Himalayas with Tibetan refugees, Dany Héricourt is an actor coach for cinema and series – recently The Eddy, by Damien Chazelle, and Valid, on the middle of rap.
A journey to adulthood
Orally, we detect a touch of British accent and some expressions directly imported from English. In writing, her French is nicely jostled and sprinkled with Welsh words, the language she does not speak of her two grandmothers. This slight strangeness, tinged with wacky humor, gives the spoon, learning novel located between Wales and Burgundy, a singular charm. Seren, barely 18, lives in Pembrokeshire, where her endearing and crazy family runs a small hotel frequented by LTC (Long Time Customers), regulars classified according to scholarly sociology. Three days before Seren’s birthday, her father died suddenly, leaving a spoon adorned with the French coat of arms at his bedside. Following the advice of a principal who whispers to her to “get lost” before entering the Beaux-Arts in Cardiff, she leaves for France in the footsteps of the spoon, driving an old Volvo weighted with a few boxes of baked. beans and chicken soup. Her journey will lead her to a Burgundian castle where she will end up unraveling the family enigma, and will enter adulthood by accepting her grief.
“On the Welsh side of my family, everyone worked in the mine. My father worked in the diamond mines in Ghana and I met a Jewish Franco-Polish, the father of my children, who grew up in Montceau-les-Mines. ” Dany Hericourt
For Seren, the physical weight of mourning takes the form of a slag heap, a hill of residue that crushes her chest and prevents her from breathing. “I’ve always loved slag heaps. Already in Wales, on a caravan holiday with my parents, I had been fascinated. It is a very beautiful country, very lyrical, but also dark and poor, where the traces of the old mines are everywhere. On the Welsh side of my family, everyone worked in the mine. My father worked in the diamond mines in Ghana and I met a Jewish Franco-Polish, the father of my children, who grew up in Montceau-les-Mines ”, says Dany Héricourt, almost astonished by this alignment of the planets.
Writing in all its forms
Born in Ghana to a French father and an English mother, she grew up in the bush with her two older brothers, among wild animals, and discovered literature through evenings without television: “It was dark at 6 am, we were reading or listening to my mother reading us stories. “ The year of his 11th birthday, a coup d’état decides his parents to return to France where they restore an old house in Beaujolais. Anglophone, she began to use French, which became, forty years later, the writing language of la Cuillère: “This is the first novel that I write in French. The writing in my head goes through English, which I then translate. “ Previously, she published an erotic book, a children’s yoga manual, a “Grandmother’s notebook” to help the elderly record their memories. She has written screenplays and songs, with Woodkid and the pop groups Isaac Delusion and the Empress. Very different forms of which we find traces in the novel: “There are a lot of bridges with the scenarios, in terms of construction and dialogues. And as I reread the text, I found that I was looking for beats – beats, a tempo. I do not compartmentalize. “
Like Seren, Dany Héricourt lost his father at the age of 17. The rest, with the exception of a few reminiscences and the Pembrokeshire hotel where she took refuge with her children on a rainy day, is pure fiction. To his young heroine, an artist in construction who draws the morning mist and associates images with colors (“Persian blue: nails of a dragon”, “celadon: lichens under the hotel menhir”), she transmitted her freedom, her taste for irreverence and trashy routes. For writingthe spoon, Dany Héricourt did not take the straightest path. She did well.
♦ The spoon, by Dany Héricourt. Liana Levi, 240 pages, 19 euros
Friday, in Humanity, and from tomorrow on l’Humanite.fr :
Dima Abdallah, Weeds.