This novel surprisingly has the same structure as The Ten Loves of Nishino by Hiromi Kawakami. In the Cafe of Lost Youth also has multiple POVs, 3 centering around Louki, and one of Louki’s own POV.
Louki is the nickname the regulars at Condé, a cafe for the bohemian student, artists, and philosophers gave Jacqueline Delanque. Jacqueline is a young girl in her early 20s at a loss for her identity, philosophy, and religion. Through the multiple narrators, you can only form a vague picture of her from the beginning to the end.
The non-linear and no-plot-line narratives showcase the nostalgia, the melancholy, and the fleeting feelings and moments of the past. And an attempt to explain events in this infinite life utilizing Nietzsche’s Philosophy of the Eternal Recurrence of the Same. That I think is the essence of Mondavi’s writing in this novella. He creates an atmosphere, a feeling, a longing which draw you into the book and leave lingering emotions long after you finish reading it.
“I stood still a moment and I held her arm tightly. We were there, together, in the same place, for all of eternity, and our stroll through Auteuil, we had already taken it during thousands and thousands of other lives. No need to look at my watch. I knew it was noon.”
First published in 2007 by Éditions Gallimard
Translated from the French by Chris Clarke
Published by New York Review Books in 2016