Monsieur Linh and His Child gets Guardian thumbs-up
This novella, by an award-winning French writer (the author of Brodeck’s Report, winner of last year’s Independent foreign fiction prize) who is also the writer-director of the Bafta‑winning film I’ve Loved You So Long (Il y a longtemps que je t’aime), would be extremely difficult to make into a film – not only because it
features a narrative “trick” that would translate awkwardly to the screen, but also because the author takes pains to avoid pinning down the story to one particular decade or location. The side-effect of this deliberately non‑specific narration is to give the story a hazy, romantic quality, like Vaseline on a camera lens or the sepia tint of an old photo…
It does not matter if you see the final “twist” coming a little sooner than the author may have wished, because the twist is more than a gimmick. It has a symbolic meaning that is integral to the two men’s story: about how the will to keep moving forward is deeply connected with the impulse to love and care for others, and about how that impulse is an end in itself, inherently precious, regardless of whether its object really reciprocates or communicates love in return.