The writer Zadig Hamroune returned to Caen to chase away his demons

The writer Zadig Hamroune returned to Caen to chase away his demons
The writer Zadig Hamroune returned to Caen to chase away his demons


Christophe Jacquet

Published on

May 24, 2024 at 6:36 p.m.

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Zadig Hamroune despite having (re)made Caen (Calvados) his home port, he seems to be traveling all the time. Between Paris, Rome, Argentina, the Normandy countryside. The writer, 43eLiterary Prize of the City of Caen, guest of the Époque book fair this Saturday May 25 and Sunday May 26, 2024, is never where you expect him. Where his social origins could assign him.

Shown as a “learned monkey”, child, in Hérouville

For what ? The author of The Barbarian Night (Éditions Emmanuelle Collas) resolves the question after an hour of interview, hidden at his home in a historic district of Caen, still jetlagged. “I always felt like I didn’t belong. »

Out of place, as a child, in the Montmorency district of Hérouville Saint-Clair – “the working-class enclave of Saviem”. This son of Algerian emigrants“illiterate but not uneducated”, distant heirs of “the Berber nobility”, felt “a little singled out”, “a little exhibited like a learned monkey”.

All becausehe knew how to read from kindergartenthat he started writing poems “at barely 6 years old” and immersed himself in the Brontë sisters and Flaubert in middle school?

Free to live in Paris

Out of place as a teenager, despite a “decisive passage” at the experimental middle school (CLE), further up in Hérouville. “I wasn’t in my community,” he says, sitting on his sofa, between the paintings of artist friends.

I had a sort of survival instinct. If I didn’t leave this family, I was going to get eaten.

Zadig Hamroune, writer from Caen

Gentle irrepressible departureat 17 years old, to Paris to be “free to experience what I wanted”: homosexuality (which led him to campaign for Act Up and Le Refuge), a taste for painting, theater, opera, etc.

With in his luggage, a first novel, sent to Seuil and to the tutelary figure of the time, Philippe Sollers. “He told me: you have style and talent. This will be even more difficult to be recognized. » It doesn’t matter for Zadig Hamroune: “Being published was not my concern at the time. I wanted to be a teacher. »

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“I paid my debt to school”

Not in his place, after 40 years, in National Education. He, who considers himself “a child of the school of the Republic”, taught English for 15 years in a ZEP, by “choice”.

With his own method. “I started from the students’ world and went towards things they didn’t know. I was trying to share my passions, but the system is closed to new ideas. »

Is this the midlife crisis? Zadig Hamroune slams the classroom door. “I had the impression of having given back to the school what it had given me, of having paid my debt. »

He gives himself over to writing. “It took a lot of work and time. » Coincidentally, he was able to entrust “a publisher friend” with the text which would become his first published novel, The Bread of Exile, in a satellite house in Gallimard, La Table Ronde. It was there that the novice author had “friendly love at first sight” with Françoise de Maulde, his proofreader and confidante.

This is indeed a constant in the zigzag journey, populated by ghosts, of Zadig Hamroune. “I have always found people along the way who pushed me. » From her older sister who “put her foot in the door” by lending her Madame Bovary to the producer of France Inter, Zoé Varier, via this neighbor who is an associate of letters, who “detected [son] taste for poetry.

Return to Caen “to the scene of a repressed trauma”

The travel writer felt all the more alone, in the midst of a health crisis. “I couldn’t stand Paris anymore. » He had to return to Caen to chase away his demons. With his latest novel, The Barbarian Night, he shifted “really into autofiction”. To create it, he had to “return to the scene of repressed trauma for 40 years”:

This novel is my childhood.

Zadig Hamroune, writer from Caen

And, at 57, as he finally seems to have made peace, Zadig Hamroune is teeming with projects. Even entering politics tickles him.

Practical. Zadig Hamroune at the Époque book fair festival in Caen (Calvados): big talk Saturday May 25, at 2 p.m., at the Conservatoire auditorium, rue du Carel; round table on “the praise of freedom” Sunday May 26, at 11:30 a.m., at the same place. FREE ENTRANCE.

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