2:00 p.m., October 31, 2022
LIFE IN BLACK – His name is Agent Evangelos. He is no longer very young and the author spares us the cliché of the alcoholic policeman or carried on toxic substances. But like other literary creations of the same genre, the hero of greek wall carries all the misfortunes of his country on his shoulders. He then takes us along the roads of a pampered Greece with the care of a geographer. But a head without a body plunges us into another Greece that no one knows and that the government of the Hellenic Republic would like to hide behind an opaque wall.
Especially since the problem with this head without a body is that it belongs to a Westerner and that it was found near a brothel whose sordidness reaches heights. Agent Evangelos is not stupid, he knows that trouble will happen in a squad. We are on the banks of the Evros river, in the military zone on the Greek-Turkish border which runs for some one hundred and fifty kilometers and which is the main crossing point for illegal immigrants. The Schengen border is guarded by Frontex, the European border police headquartered in Warsaw. An aberration that Agent Evangelos does not hesitate to criticize but which does not make him lose sight of the responsibility of his own administration.
Swiss author Nicolas Verdan has created a beautiful character. We follow this intelligence agent three years from retirement, full of nostalgia and fury. Nostalgic when he assiduously frequents the Batman, the café of Greece before, where smoking is still outlawed, where lung cancer is not yet on the program. Furious, when he immerses us in what he calls acidly, “The Crisis”, the Greece of today. The famous crisis, the one that hit the country in 2008 and made it unscrew. Merkel and her austerity plan for “those lazy Greeks” she heavily suggested. But Agent Evangelos, who has just become a grandfather, still has a taste for a job well done. He wants to solve this crime. He doesn’t give a damn about Frontex, Europe and the Chancellor. He advances, alone, in the cesspool of human exploitation. A final actor is missing from this equation of misfortune. His own country and its endemic corruption.
A wall. That’s what it’s really about. And this wall, intended to block the route of migrants, who will pay for it? All guilty may well be the writer’s subliminal message. So much money to be made on the back of misery and especially the hope of those who, in a moment of pure madness, try their luck to escape a destiny without horizon. A new life that passes through Greece, along a wall that could well be that of shame. Nicolas Verdan loves Greece. His novel nevertheless exudes a hushed despair, Greece nicknamed the cradle of Western civilization and which got lost on the way, abandoned by all. Naked, faced with a new page in her History that she does not know how to apprehend. What to do with women and men who come knocking on the door of a misguided dream. Look away and protect yourself behind the height of an impassable wall.
The Greek Wall by Nicolas Verdan, Éditions Atalante, 224 pages, 18.50 Euros.
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