Fellous, Colette. “This Tilting World”, translated by Sophie Lewis, Two Lines Press, 2019.
The Jews of Tunisia
When I lived in Israel, I had several Tunisian friends and I alwys had questions about how they lived in Tunisia yet I also knew that we are not to ask questions of this kind because often Tunisian Jewry is very private. Now I no longer need to worry because Colette Fellous now shares her life with us.
“On the night following the terrorist attack that killed eighty-three tourists on the beach at Sousse, a woman sat facing the sea and writing a complicated love letter to her homeland, Tunisia, which she feels she must leave forever. She also writes of her personal tragedies―the deaths of her father, a quiet man, and of another lifelong friend, who just weeks ago died at sea, having forsaken the writing that had given his life meaning.”
“This Tilting World” is one book of a trilogy on the history of Tunisia’s Jewish community and it is related with nods to Proust. It includes a multitude of colorful portraits, sweeping readers onto a lyrical journey from Tunisia to Paris to a Flaubertian village in Normandy where we hear the voices of loved ones now silent.
This is written in gorgeous fragmentary texts and is a creative memoir that is at once a political and cultural portrait of a region that has sat at the center of world history for millennia, as well as a search into Fellous’s memory, emotions, and family history. The way she captures emotions is enchanting and you feel that she has opened the door to a past world.