In this explosive novel, the violence of Nazi Germany throws light on the violence of today. During a school trip to Buchenwald concentration camp, a young French teacher comes across a photograph taken in the camp in 1941, of a prisoner whose resemblance to his own father is uncanny. However, the man has a different name and died in 1942. Returning to France, the teacher finds that the memory of the photograph haunts him. His search for its subject takes him not just to the unutterable brutality of Buchenwald, but into the dark heart of his own family. The prisoner in the photo is David Wagner, his real grandfather. Little by little,he unearths the history of this other family, the Jewish Wagners - a family that the wealthy and influential Fabres have always kept hidden. And for him, it is the crossed destiny of these two families two generations earlier, when the ambitious David Wagner met the rich Marcel Fabre and his wife Virginie, that erupts still with devastating consequences. The teacher discovers that it is not easy to confront history - one's own or that of one's family. And even his new life in Berlin with Sophie, a young German, become tainted by the past.
Going back to the origin of violence - and its corollary, fear - he comes face to face with his own violence. The first book of Fabrice Humbert's to be translated into English, "The Origin of Violence" is a virtuoso performance that asks urgent questions for our time.
Publisher: Profile Books Ltd