Culture: our selection of books

Laurence Nobécourt, PE Cayral and Malek Abbou are the authors of the works selected by the editorial staff of Lyon Capitale at the start of the year.

Funny birds!

The latest novel by Laurence Nobécourt, bird opera, is a unique book. Completely different from the hundreds of works offered during this last literary season. More demanding, more difficult to access but also more rewarding, stronger by the imprint it leaves on the reader. It should not be read in one go, not only because it is more than five hundred pages, but above all because it is a pleasure to discover it and savor it, patiently, for a long time.

It’s a kind of “novel-world” that unfolds for a year, already past or soon to come, who knows? One has the impression of reading, over their shoulder, the diary that would be kept by about fifteen characters throughout a year. They have in common the reading of the Japanese poet Yazuki (who Laurence Nobécourt initially believed to be fictitious but who turned out to be very real!) who, himself, is an integral part of the fresco.

Thus, according to the different protagonists, their intimate confessions, here we are in New York, Venice, Paris, Portugal, Russia, Africa or Japan… In short, everywhere on this earth…

The characters of this unusual brotherhood are more or less old; their life is sometimes ahead, sometimes behind them. But through the powerful language of Laurence Nobécourt, and its surprising evocative power, they manage to transmit to us their precious experience on time, love, friendship, the bonds – friendly or family – tied between beings, the art, poetry, and death, which can be, if not joyful, at least peaceful.


bird opera – Laurence Nobécourt, Grasset editions, 512 p., €24.

Hats off!

PE Cayral’s first novel, At the start, there were four of us, deserves a thumbs up. And not just because this 50-year-old, born in Lyon, is… a hat seller.

Judging by this first novel, and if others of the same ilk followed, he could well become a real writer too. In any case, he has a writing that has the gift of striking our imagination.

The first pages of the book testify to this. They describe the birth, and the few moments preceding it, of Gus. He is one of the heroes of this novel swept by the spray and the noroît winds, since it takes place largely within a family farm, in Finistère.

“One of the heroes”, because there are several. Cayral portrays a large family. It brings to life, from childhood to advanced adulthood, through adolescence and youth, the adventures of three twin brothers. And even, one might say, quadruplets, since the fourth twin, stillborn, speaks from time to time.

The novel is indeed written in a polyphonic way, giving the floor to the three brothers but also to their mother, their father or other relatives of the triplets. Perhaps so that we can better understand how, behind the physical appearance so similar (they look alike like two drops of water), everyone has their own destiny, their own thoughts and their particular view of events, both those experienced together than those that each faces individually.

The novel keeps us spellbound from start to finish as it knows how to make the three members of this peerless sibling endearing and lively.


At the start, we were four – PE Cayral, Anne Carrière editions, 304 p., €19.

Abbou football

Last year, with their collection “The Writers’ Club”, Médiapop editions undertook a tour of France of the strongholds of French football. The way: ask an author to tell his report to his club of hearts and, thereby, the club itself.

After passing through Marseille, Saint-Étienne, Metz, Rennes, Reims and Bordeaux, “The Writers’ Club” finally stops in Lyon and near OL with the writer and essayist Malek Abbou. In full decline of Olympique Lyonnais, it does not hurt. Or that’s a lot. Because, with nostalgia, the author remembers the appearance of his first love thrills for the club. A mostly blind feeling – back then, except to go to the stadium, football was invisible.

Then the various hours of glory of the club of Jean-Michel Aulas, in particular his seven championship titles in a row, this feeling of invincibility and his European exploits (very numerous).

But what makes the charm of the book and the collection – and makes it possible to find interest in it without being a fan of OL or of another of these clubs – is the loving approach to the thing. , the summoning of childhood and the resolutely literary character of this supporter’s book unlike any other, passionate but fair. As often funny as moving in this supernatural attachment to a club for which everything is going wrong.

For exiles, Lyonnais from elsewhere, in addition to the books already published, two books have recently appeared, devoted to FC Sochaux-Montbéliard and PSG.


Ordinary scenes from the life of lions – Malek Abbou, Médiapop editions, 104 p., €9.

Culture: our selection of books – Lyon Capitale