Marie Chaix’s The Summer of the Elder Tree reviewed at Bookforum

In her elegant and memoiristic novel The Summer of the Elder Tree, Marie Chaix fills in the various silences of her past in order to overcome a ten-year hiatus from writing, which started following the death of her editor, Alain Oulman. Translated from the French by her husband, author Harry Mathews, the first American member of the Oulipo, Elder Tree (first published in France in 2005) concludes a triptych of Chaix’s work released by Dalkey Archive Press over the past year. The books draw on a troubling family history. In the first volume of the triptych, The Laurels of Lake Constance (published in France in 1974), Chaix tells the story of her father’s collaborations with the Nazis during World War II. When Chaix was twenty-six, she read the notebooks her father had written during his ten-year imprisonment, which her mother had previously kept hidden from her.

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