I apologize in advance for this post’s length, but I really felt like I had to discuss this in depth. If you want a short reading, you can read only the 5 last paragraphs. Thanks for your understanding.

You know, sometimes, without explanation, there are books that you don’t understand, you feel like you’re too young to read them. But in fact, it’s just that it’s not the right time.

That was the case with the novel Momo des Halles, Philippe Hayat‘s first book.

Two years ago, I did an internship at Allary Editions, a publishing company, which published, for example, L’Arabe du Futur by Riad Sattouf. When I finished my week there – unforgettable one, by the way 😉 – the company offered me some books. One of these books was Momo des Halles.

At this time, I was around 14 years old, and when I started reading it, I put it down after the first chapter. Not because it was bad, but because I wasn’t in the mood for this kind of story, and I didn’t have the same open-mindedness as today.

Momo des Halles slept on my nightstand for nearly two years. I almost forgot it, until last month. I was tired of reading old french classics recommended by school, so I searched in my dusty bookshelf and found it. I found the book that changed my life. Or at least, my month.

Usually, I am not really the kind of War stories lover. But this time was different. I had a revelation. This story of this jewish young man Maurice, who’s around my age, living on his own with his sister during the second World War because their parents have been arrested. He’s got to handle himself, he’s got to work, to earn money. He becomes a merchant at Le carreau des Halles, famous place in Paris, and spends the major part of his time there, with his « second family » : the traffickers. Until he’s arrested too…

This book moved me. Honestly, I’ve rarely seen a book that transcribes that well the emotions. Of course the fact that it is based on a true story makes it easier to identify to the characters, to feel closer to them… But I mean, what surprised me the most was how real the dialogs seemed. You know like the author had to use a familiar language for some characters, but like… it was so well written it almost felt like you could hear them talking !

I think Philippe Hayat did amazing work, and I really am pissed off to see that books like this one are so few publicized ; If Allary Editions hadn’t given it to me, I would’ve probably never read it, or even heard about it, and that really is a pity, cause trust me, interesting and smart books like this one are pretty scarce !

Because this book is a war story, but the author had the intelligence not to show only the war’s horrible sides, in a pathetic way, but to focus on heroes, on all the beautiful things that kept people alive during these terrible days. That makes the book original. And smart. And that’s what made me enjoy it.

People don’t want sad stories that only because pity and guilt. They want hope. And if we want the duty of remembrance to last, that’s the way it works.

Posted by:Victoire

7 réponses sur « Momo des Halles »

  1. J’ai entendu parler de ce livre lors d’une émission de télévision sur le 5 (C à dire) et je suis heureux que tu l’aies apprécié.
    Un petit conseil, si tu peux, achète et lis le Journal d’Anne Frank (je te l’offre)


  2. C’est dans les cas difficiles que l’on peut voir ce que l’être humain a de potentialités en lui pour s’en sortir. Malheureusement certains baissent les bras et se laissent couler alors que d’autres aiment la vie et redonnent espoir par leur exemple aux plus faibles ou aux futures générations.
    Tu me passeras ce livre que je lirai avec plaisir vu ta bonne critique.


  3. Unless you are very unsure of your tastes and styles, I see no problem in asking for friend’s about a book. This does not mean at all you tend to agree with thme. This seems to me a straightforward statement, soon learnt. As for myself I like this book. Hemingway and Paris and such gathering of artists seems to me a very good combination. Also, Hemingway is a wonderful raconteur and it helped me imagine How thrilled how I would feelat that time if I kewm me. The book itself is une fête


  4. Hi ! I think you commented on the wrong post… Anyway, thanks for sharing your thoughts, that is the aim. As I said in the article about Hemingway, my intention, in first place, wasn’t to say that I didn’t like the book, but to encourage ppl to be proud and confident about their opinions and feelings, and never be ashamed of having different tastes than most ppl.
    Plus, when I talk about « others’ opinion », I am not talking about a friend’s recommendation, but about the special idea that society (in general) tries to spread, that – that’s what I think – forces ppl to think in a specific way : the society’s one, instead of their own.
    Otherwise, I really appreciate your comment bcause I can see that you have your reasons and I like when a comment is constructive! And that is actually exactly what this article was about ! Being able not to tell only if you like it or not, but WHY.
    Thanks again, if every you wanna discuss this subject more deeply, you can contact me!



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