French writer David Foenkinos presents his latest novel, H24info

French writer David Foenkinos traveled to Morocco on September 20 and 21 to present his latest novel, Number two: the story of Martin Hill, the little boy who was to interpret Harry Potter at the cinema before being preceded by Daniel Radcliffe. Meet.

The story is based on real events. In 1999, the casting team for the film Harry Potter hesitated for several weeks between two little boys. And it is finally Daniel Radcliffe who is chosen to embody the most famous wizard in literature. David Foenkinos then imagines the life of “number two”, who comes close to glory.

“How do you rebuild yourself by having a permanent link with what you missed? This is what I wanted to tell in this book, ”explains the successful French writer during a meeting organized on Wednesday September 21, 2022 at the French Institute in Casablanca. Invited by the Institute and the Livremoi bookstore, the author who came close to the Goncourt prize in 2014 for Charlotteanswered questions from Morocco readers.

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“I lived the subject of the book, failure, and sometimes I experienced it as something interesting,” he told the audience. In 1991, at the age of 16, he suffered from a very rare disease which immobilized him for several months in the hospital. It was then that he fell in love with literature, devouring book after book. Without destining himself for a career as a writer, Foenkinos likes to write and finally publishes his first work without much repercussion. Inversion of idiocy: from the influence of two Polesat Gallimard, in 2002.

With amusement, he likes to recount his first signing session in a Fnac where “there was only one woman who did not even know” who he was. A lady who, he said, was there by chance because she “had forgotten her keys and was waiting for her husband to come home”. Admiring eclectic authors such as Philip Roth, Milan Kundera and Dostoyevsky, the author only achieved success in 2009 and rose to the top of the charts with Delicacyadapted for the cinema two years later, then with Charlottecrowned with the Renaudot and Goncourt prizes for high school students.

“Failure is a component of success”

“Have you ever been number two yourself? asks a woman in the assembly. “Oh yes, many times,” acknowledges the author, whose novels address the theme of rebuilding after failure. “Failure is a component of success,” he says. “Life paths are changing a lot today. People are reinventing themselves, lives are less linear. There is the possibility of this mutation, of these choices which make us fork and the book speaks of the possibility of approaching this second life”, affirms the writer.

The book also devotes a few pages to the extraordinary success of JK Rowling. “My book is not authorized by JK Rowling, so it is a bit sulphurous”, jokes the author, fascinated by the “true fairy tale” experienced by this “totally desperate woman, living on social assistance and going become the most widely read author in the world. He reveals that he wrote her a letter, which has remained unanswered for the moment. The writer also says that he is making progress on the film adaptation project of “Number two”.

This is not the first time that David Foenkinos has traveled to Morocco. “It’s always a pleasure to meet Moroccan readers. I came several times, notably to the Marrakech book festival, or during book signings to meet readers… The last time was for Leïla Slimani’s birthday. I was also in Tangier with Tahar Ben Jelloun”, says the writer, saying he is “very friendly” with the two Moroccan authors who won the Goncourt.

>> Number twoDavid Foeninos, Gallimard, 2022, MAD 250.

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