In Roberto Bolaño’s novel 2666, the efforts of an academic claque propel the mysterious German author Benno von Archimboldi onto bestseller lists across the Continent. But ‘in the British Isles, it must be said, Archimboldi remained a decidely marginal writer’.
Bolaño’s joke came to mind when I looked at the website of the French novelist Michel Déon, who has won awards and been translated ‘into German, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Greek, Turkish, Russian, Chinese, Lithuanian, Indian, Japanese, Polish, and once in English’, even though he’s lived in Ireland for more than 40 years.
At least it’s twice now, thanks to the excellent Julian Evans. The Foundling Boy — terrible title, lovely book — is a big-hearted coming-of-age shaggy-dog story that describes the interwar boyhood and youth of Jean Arnaud, raised backstairs on a Normandy estate after his abandonment one night in 1919.