Home > 2010, 21st Century, Crime Fiction, French Literature, Highly Recommended, Norek Olivier, Polar, State of the Nation, Translation Tragedy > Between Two Worlds by Olivier Norek – Translation tragedy. This book needs an English translator.

Between Two Worlds by Olivier Norek – Translation tragedy. This book needs an English translator.

September 11, 2021 Leave a comment Go to comments

Between Two Worlds by Olivier Norek (2017) Translation Tragedy: not available in English. Original Franch title: Entre deux mondes.

Our first book for our new Book Club season was Entre deux mondes by Olivier Norek. The title’s literal translation is Between Two Worlds. Olivier Norek is a French crime fiction writer who was a humanitarian worker during the war in Yugoslavia and who is now a police officer is the tough department of Seine-Saint-Denis near Paris. For once, we have a French writer who is neither a journalist nor a teacher or an academic.

Entre deux mondes relates the story of Adam Sirkis, a Syrian who worked undercover in the Syrian police department but fought against Bashar al-Assad. The book starts when one of his accomplices has been caught and is now tortured.

It’s time for Adam to flee the country. He knew it was a risk and he’s ready for it. First, he sends his wife and daughter abroad, to Libya where they will hop on a boat towards the Italian coasts.

Early on, we know Nora and Maya won’t make it. Adam arrives in France in the Calais Jungle. It was a camp for migrants who repeatedly tried to go to UK (Youké, as it is spelled in the book)

Bastien Miller, a police lieutenant freshly transferred to the Calais police force, arrives in Calais at about the same time as Adam. His wife is depressed, his teenage daughter isn’t exactly happy with the move. His colleagues at the station introduce him to the particularities of their job in Calais.

As a murder occurs in the Jungle, Adam and Bastien collaborate.

Entre deux mondes is one of these vital books that make you understand a tricky political and humanitarian situation. Norek manages a tour-de-force with this book. There is no sugarcoating the situation. We encounter various migrants, each with their personal story and nothing is ever black or white.

We see the terrible job of the police force in Calais, caught between doing their duty, trying to protect the Calais population’s lives and at the same time hating the operations against the migrants that they have to do. Norek describes extremely well the controls performed by the police before trucks are allowed through The Channel Tunnel.

We see migrants with their despair and their hope for a better life in UK, where they may have family and often know a bit of the language. We see that they arrive from countries at war with deep scars that nobody sees in Europe because they have seen and lived through things that we cannot imagine. Through a child character, Kilani, we understand how wrong our perception can be, because we have a mental set of references that conditions how we grasp situations.

We see how life is organized in the Jungle, the violence, the closed camp for women to avoid rapes, the trafficking and the powerplays between ethnic groups and people.

There is no naïve optimism in Entre deux mondes. No bad or good people. Only humans who aspire to a better life and other who try to do their best and to not hate themselves for it. Norek shows that there is no obvious solution, no ready-made action plan and how helpless the police and humanitarians feel. Law enforcement characters sound real and the migrants aren’t only victims. Norek demonstrates that difficulties to communicate between people who don’t speak the same language may have dramatic consequences and that it doesn’t help with already complex circumstances.

We were all deeply moved and quite stunned by the book. It brings something to the world. Through a nuanced story, we have a raw picture of the migration Catch 22.

THIS BOOK NEEDS AN ENGLIH TRANSLATOR.

Another book about this topic : Eldorado by Laurent Gaudé. This one is available in English.

PS : As a bonus, Olivier Norek has lovely words for libraires and book bloggers in the Acknowledgment section of the book.

I’m thankful for… (…)

Libraires whose daily fight to exist is commendable. When we won’t have independant bookstores anymore, we’ll only have the phone book to read.

Bloggers. For small blogs, big ones, the ones full of emotions, the ones with mistakes, the heartfelt ones, the poetic ones. For bloggers who become more than mere acquaintances, those who write about any kind of authors, those whose walls hold up with TBRs, the ones who tell you when your book is bad and go to book fairs with you. You are the real chroniclers of crime fiction.

  1. September 11, 2021 at 3:48 pm

    Well, Norek has found a publisher in the UK, I’m pleased to say (although sad that it wasn’t Corylus that got him), namely Maclehose Press, and there’s been quite a bit of buzz around his debut (Code 93, but translated in English as The Lost and the Damned), so they did do quite a bit of marketing around it. There were some remote interviews via the French Institute, together with British author Joseph Knox, positive reviews and so on. So I am hopeful that this will get translated too, although of course the topics of immigration and Calais are currently a bit fraught here in the UK!

    Like

  2. September 11, 2021 at 3:58 pm

    This sounds stunning. Marina Sofia’s comment makes me hopeful for an English translation!

    Like

    • September 12, 2021 at 9:48 am

      Fingers crossed!
      My question is : Are there enough British readers ready to read about this for the publisher to take a chance and publish it?

      Like

  3. September 11, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    Norek is a great author, I have read a couple other books by him

    Like

    • September 12, 2021 at 9:48 am

      I want to read Code 93 too.

      Like

  4. September 12, 2021 at 10:08 am

    Starting it today!!

    Like

    • September 12, 2021 at 10:45 am

      Let me know what you think about it!

      Like

  5. Pat
    September 13, 2021 at 11:18 pm

    Hi Emma, I read this a while back, enjoyed it ( see the article). I’m pleased to see he’s got a translator

    Like

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