Toulouse: the white-hot suburbs told by Diaty Diallo at the Terra Nova bookstore
The Terra Nova bookstore, in Toulouse, receives Diaty Diallo on Friday November 18 for his novel “Two seconds of burning air”
Attention, this book, which will be presented today at the Terra Nova bookstore, is a bomb! “Two seconds of burning air”, by Diaty Diallo (Editions du Seuil) is a dive into a suburban district (“Paname” is barely mentioned – it could be Marseille, Lille… or Toulouse) heated to white heat by the “minor police humiliations”, profile checks, provocations… One slippage too many, one death too many and the city embraces.
Diaty Diallo, who signs his first novel here, has always written: words are in his veins, where they collide with an even greater passion: music. Thermal explosion between these two weapons with unlimited powers. “Since I was 14, I have been writing constantly, she confides, and without discouraging, like spontaneous writing. It was a visceral need. The years passed, I wrote song texts, created a blog… Writing a novel was a novel, it started as a joke, and I quickly understood that it was a much longer gesture. Between documentary story – Diallo’s narrative strength and precision impress with each sentence – and choral portrait of a group of teenagers who are looking for meaning in their life in a concrete city whose basements they mainly frequent, before reclaiming the central “square”, then climbing onto the rooftops, “Two seconds of burning air” powerfully tells us of a city in the process of going off the rails – one more?. “It’s interesting, this idea of going higher, of rising from the basements to the roofs, observes the Parisian. They want to take back their place – in every sense of the word – in the public space. They rise to the surface. On the question of the number of books on this issue, I didn’t ask the question: I wanted to talk about my reality. I didn’t want to rehabilitate young people or add nuance to police behavior. I wrote down what I saw and experienced. »
The great success of the book is the language that Diaty Diallo uses: a newspeak (over 40, you will probably have to ask your teenagers to translate a few words for you) with jerky breathing, fragile beauty, carried by a very urban rhythm: you could (we tried) read a paragraph aloud and it’s a rap text – of which Diallo is a big fan; she also offers at the end of the book the soundtrack of the novel – which we hear, with her thrusts, her strokes of the reins and her barely concealed tenderness. “I wanted to write with that language and putting down the spoken word is very difficult. What works in this language can lose all depth in writing, so I had to twist the words, accepting the inevitable wesh and you saw, for it to work. It is a language that has a beauty of its own. One thinks, all things considered, of course, of Céline who explained that, in order to “make” language oral on paper, he had to consider it like a wooden stick plunged into a bucket of water: if one does not break not this branch, its reflection will be distorted in the water; by breaking it, brutally if necessary, we give it back all its beauty.
What to write after such a literary explosion? “I have a lot of things going through my head, eludes the novelist. I want another Roman choir, I know it’s long and painful, but I want to get back to it. And so much the worse if this image of a bitumen writer is stuck on me. Bitumen, perhaps, but a writer, that’s undeniable. And what a writer.