What is real life 2

“Real Life” by Adeline Dieudonné

Adeline Dieudonné with her book "La Vraie Vie". Now the novel has also been published in German. (Image: Hatim Kaghat / Belga)

At the beginning of the story everything seems to be quite normal in the row house settlement on the edge of the forest. But then it turns out that the world behind the facade is far from perfect: In addition to television and whiskey, his father loves the frenzy of the hunt. Because he doesn't have the money for a big game safari, he lets out his addiction to power at home: on his wife and two children.

As readers, we accompany the ten-year-old girl, who does everything to save at least her four-year-old brother from hell into a better one, or, as she puts it, into “real life”. The mother is hardly present. The children play in a car scrap yard, and in the evening they go to the ice cream truck. One day, an accident happens before your eyes that will change your life.

"Part of my story"

“La vraie vie” (“Real Life”) deals with a difficult topic: domestic violence. Why is author Adeline Dieudonné interested in it? Has she perhaps experienced violence in the family herself? No, she says in the BRF interview. The subject came while writing.

She wanted the two main characters not to have an easy childhood because that made the plot more interesting. It was only much later that she realized that violence had also played a role in her family. “When I was a kid, my grandma told me how her father bullied the family. I think that really shaped me after all. It's also part of my story somewhere. "

Adeline Dieudonné was born and raised in Brussels and still lives there today. The 38-year-old has two children and is actually an actress by profession. She has already written several award-winning short stories and has successfully published a play: "Bonobo Moussaka".

Her debut novel is a huge hit with the public in francophone Belgium and France. And the critics also celebrate it: the book has already won 14 prizes, for example the Prix du Roman FNAC, the Prix Renaudot and the Prix Rossel. The surprising thing about “The Real Life” is its convincing mixture of fairy tales and thrillers, social novels and horror stories.

Compare with Tarantino, Stephen King, and Almodovar

The critics make comparisons with Quentin Tarantino, Stephen King and Pedro Almodovar - Adeline Dieudonné is proud of this. Because it is also these artists that she admires. More than 200,000 bound copies of the French edition of the novel “La vraie vie” have been sold, and the paperback has just been published (“Editions du Livre de Poche”). The novel has now been translated into 20 languages.

Actually, Adeline Dieudonné should have gone on a book tour - first to New Orleans in the USA, then to Poland. The corona pandemic thwarted her plans. Instead, she stayed at home in Brussels and worked on her second novel. In fact, she has not really found the calm to write.

“Like most people, there was almost nothing I could do but keep listening to the news. I just couldn't switch off. Then I had the children at home who couldn't go to school, so it was difficult for me to concentrate. But I've read a lot, especially treatises on feminism and sexuality. "

Perhaps Adeline Dieudonné has already laid the foundation for her next novel. She has not yet revealed anything about the content, only this much: It will be about the subject of the collapse again. It could well be that the current situation affects the action.

Judith Peters