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Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano

It is perhaps a lovelier endeavour to read this in French as it is originally written because it is somewhat inevitable that some things get lost in translation. All the same reading it in English is quite pleasurable. This is Patrick Modiano’s Paris, shadowy and romantic (akin to the atmospheric book cover on the left).

Suspended Sentences, composing of three novellas, got the feel of an array of old photographs brimming over with nostalgia of forgotten and abandoned places. His asymmetrical prose resembles shifty memories. It evoked a lingering scent of dusty air and melancholy. Such is the beauty of Modiano’s work. There may be not much solid framework to its plot or characters, but it is laden with emotion and carried afloat by its lasting impressions.

Afterimage is perhaps the most compact among the three, it was a lovely read. Flowers of Ruin may best describe the state of my memory many years from now but what I like about it is how Modiano plays the light on its structure; sometimes muted and hazy, sometimes sharp and blinding. Suspended Sentences remains seductively elusive and mysterious to me and I think that is its charm.

Being hailed as the Nobel laureate last year initially made me quite curious about Modiano and, when I read this, I wasn’t disappointed despite other mixed reactions. Perhaps because it corroborated to my taste for such kind of books. One thing is certain; this won’t be the last book I will read of his. Gladly I wrote his name on my list of almost favourite authors.


Although originally published separately, Patrick Modiano’s three novellas form a single, compelling whole, haunted by the same gauzy sense of place and characters. Modiano draws on his own experiences, blended with the real or invented stories of others, to present a dreamlike autobiography that is also the biography of a place. Orphaned children, mysterious parents, forgotten friends, enigmatic strangers—each appears in this three-part love song to a Paris that no longer exists. In this superb English-language translation of Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin, Mark Polizzotti captures not only Modiano’s distinctive narrative voice but also the matchless grace and spare beauty of his prose.

Shadowed by the dark period of the Nazi Occupation, these novellas reveal Modiano’s fascination with the lost, obscure, or mysterious: a young person’s confusion over adult behavior; the repercussions of a chance encounter; the search for a missing father; the aftershock of a fatal affair. To read Modiano’s trilogy is to enter his world of uncertainties and the almost accidental way in which people find their fates.

Title: Suspended Sentences
Author: Patrick Modiano
Genre: Fiction, Novella
Published: November 2014 (first published 2006)
Publisher: Yale University Press
Rating:  ♨♨♨♨ (4 cups - Modiano's atmospheric and darkly romantic Paris is displayed here. )

From the Yale University Press:

Suspended Sentences: Three Novellas
by Patrick Modiano, winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature
Translated by Mark Polizzotti

A compelling, sublime, and haunting trio of intertwined tales—
the perfect introduction to the extraordinary art of this French master

Translator Mark Polizzotti is available for interviews and events:
·         Mark Polizzotti has translated more than forty books from the French and is director of the publications program at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
·         An accomplished author, editor, and reviewer as well as translator, Mark is marvelously articulate and engaging—and he is doing interviews and events in support of Suspended Sentences.
·         For inquiries about Mark’s availability in this regard, please contact Robert Pranzatelli, Senior Publicist, Yale University Press:


“A timely glimpse at [Modiano’s] fixations . . . In Mark Polizzotti’s spare and elegant translation, the writing conveys a sense of dreamy unease in which the real, the hypothesized, and the half-forgotten blend into a shimmering vagueness.”
—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

“An excellent introduction to the writer . . . Modiano is as accessible as he is engrossing.”
—Jonathan Gibbs, Independent (UK)

“These three atmospheric novellas demonstrate the range of reading pleasure afforded by Modiano’s approach and the dark romance of his Paris . . . each first-person novella is also a portrait of the artist.”
Publishers Weekly

“In poetic prose, Modiano evokes a Paris that no longer exists, yet lingers in the light and shadows of memory.”
—Jane Ciabattari, 

* * * * * * *

Patrick Modiano is a best‑selling novelist and the winner of some of the most prestigious literary awards in France, including the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Mondial Cino Del Duca for lifetime achievement. In 2014 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “the art of memory with which he has evoked the most ungraspable human destinies and uncovered the life‑world of the occupation.”


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