Fille de révolutionnaires / Daughter of revolutionaries
Novel , 2017
Prix du livre politique 2018 / Prix des députés 2018 / Prix Étudiant du livre politique – France culture 2018
The daughter of Régis Debray and Elizabeth Burgos recounts the life of her revolutionary parents in a narrative that moves between her personal memories and a portrait of troubled times.
Laurence Debray is the daughter of the philosopher Régis Debray and the anthropologist Elizabeth Burgos. Her parents came from traditional, well-off families – his from Paris and hers from Venezuela - and both embraced the revolutionary cause of Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. In 1967 Régis Debray joined Che's guerrilla army in Bolivia as a liaison agent and was arrested. When Che was captured six months later, Debray was accused of having betrayed him and sentenced to thirty years in prison, of which he served only four thanks to the good offices of his family and the French diplomatic corps, and the pressure exerted by the Bolivian trade unions. Then came years of bohemian life, when he took refuge in writing. Later, with the coming to power of Mitterrand, both the author’s parents were appointed to public office: Debray served as an adviser to the president and Burgos was director of the Maison de l'Amérique Latin.
In this frank, sincere book, Laurence Debray settles accounts with the past and describes the legend and real lives of her revolutionary progenitors, and her own life too. And thus the stage is filled by the absent father, the mother who chose to be free rather than ending up trapped in the role of the wife of a staunch intellectual, the author’s lonely, austere childhood in Paris, the summer she spent in Cuba in a communist youth camp devoted to the training of perfect revolutionaries, her stay in Seville, where Alfonso Guerra became her adoptive father, and later the time spent in Venezuela, London and the world of banking in New York.
The author smoothly combines the gaze of a daughter examining her parents with a critical eye, the unbridled sincerity of her most intimate memories, and the detached perspective of a historian reviewing a time of revolutionary zeal, all written in line with the hard-hitting maxim in Molière’s The Misanthrope, which introduces this dazzling autobiography and eyewitness account: “The more you love someone, the less you should flatter them. The proof of true love is to be unsparing in fault-finding.”
“The book of a generation – the children of the children of 1968.” Mazarine Pingeot, L'Express
“With a historian’s detachment and a daughter’s curiosity, one generation’s perception of the previous one.” France Culture
“A family portrait of an atypical childhood in the shadow of communist parents.” Le Figaro
“In this story, which is both personal and historical, the author explores the lives of her parents.” Roxane Grolleau, Le Monde
“A book about the lives of her parents. Sometimes tender, often fierce. And it makes no concessions.” Serge Raffy, Le Nouvel Observateur
“A daughter reconsiders the father’s legend.” Caroline Mangez, Paris Match
“A touching book." Nathalie Dupuis, Elle
“Humour, suffering, sarcasm and insolence. A tribute to her father’s idealism.” María Laura Avignolo, Clarín