There’s something about French books. (Apart from there not being enough of them in translation.) They write about different things in France. And differently.
My Brother Simple by Marie-Aude Murail is the most heart-warming story. Kleber’s brother is not really called Simple, except it’s what he’s called in daily life, unless he’s called Idiot. He occasionally calls himself that, because he’s heard it often enough.
Simple has learning difficulties. He is 22 and his father put him in an institution to be rid of ‘the problem.’ 17-year-old Kleber feels this is wrong, so takes him out again and attempts to set up home with Simple, while also going to school. And picking up girls. Or trying to.
They eventually find rooms in a flatshare in Paris, and their four new flatmates all react differently to Simple. He might have the IQ of a three-year-old, but Simple changes their lives. Simple has a toy rabbit who talks (very sensibly, I thought) and Simple has problems with things like mobile phones and cigarette lighters.
He discovers love – and girls – and also how complicated life can be.
This is very French, and very Parisian. And very, very lovely.