“I am nothing. Nothing but a pale shape, silhouetted that evening against the cafe terrace, waiting for the rain to stop”
So begins the story of a man suffering from amnesia during the days of the Paris Occupation and losing his identity. He went to a detective agency to get help and the boss there gave him a name and a job. Guy Roland went on working as a private detective for 10 years. When his boss retired, he set out on a journey to investigate his own past and looked for his lost identity. Layers of memories came back to him when he encountered people, looked at old photographs and listened to fragments of stories assuming to be of his own life.
As in real life, will Guy Roland ever find out who he really is? That’s a big question.
Missing Person is another strange novel from the Nobel prize winning author Patrick Modiano about fragments of memory, lost self, and hidden identity.
“I believe that the entrance halls of buildings still retain the echo of footsteps of those who used to cross them and who have since vanished. Something continues to vibrate after they have gone, fading waves, but which can still be picked up if one listens carefully. Perhaps, after all, I never was this Pedro McEvoy, I was nothing, but waves passed through me, sometimes faint, sometimes stronger, and all these scattered echoes afloat in the air crystallized and there I was.”
Published in 1978 (French), 2004 (English)
Translated by Daniel Weissbort
A Verba Mundi book