Synopses & Reviews
A war criminal returns to the scene of the crime
It's 1999 and Emile Poulquet awaits sentencing in a Paris court for deporting thousands to almost certain death during World War II. But haunted by ghosts from his past, and determined to confront his dark legacy, he escapes and heads toward his beloved Finier, a rural town in the south of France where he once served as prefect. His return will have explosive consequences.
In Finier, Poulquet finds shelter within the strange embrace of a group of teenage wastrels, and encounters new breeds of idealism, degeneracy, and friendship. He sets out to find Arianne a lifelong obsession and the widow of a Resistance hero in order to hand her his last will and testament. But as he begins his quest, he cannot help being drawn, inexorably, toward another circle of refugees and reporters in town for a wartime reunion. He doesn't yet know that his worst betrayal and the greatest test of his own ability to pardon another is yet to come.
By turns epic and intimate, reflective and slyly humorous, Crawl Space limns the gray zone between past and future. Edie Meidav poignantly describes one man's tragic attempt to come to terms with the past.
"Meidav embeds the reader in the mind of a narcissistic, self-loathing, obsessive, vengeful narrator...whose oddly compelling voice is the achievement of this complex novel....With a tale both chilling and comical, Meidav considers the struggle to define history." Publishers Weekly
"In her new novel, Edie Meidav has created a vivid panorama of the modern world, refracted through an amazingly intricate character. The secrets of history, the unrequited loves and betrayals, the disgraces and disappointments and confusions all are revived for Emile Poulquet, who, in trying to escape his past, runs headlong into the trap of memory and guilt. Crawl Space is the work of a fearless writer with a cosmic imagination." Joanna Scott
In her energy as a writer, Meidav floats so many issues, throws so many balls in the air, that she runs the risk of anti-climax. Can the final meeting with Arianne, for example, carry the weight Poulquet puts on it as he travels toward it? Some novelists have the capacity, the narrative goodwill and the generosity to override and allay such readerly qualms. In this accomplished novel, Meidav shows herself to be one of that happy company. Given how long we wait to read Poulquet's will and testament, it's a relief when its content is both sufficiently enlightening and cunning that it succeeds as a device. Thomas Keneally, Washington Post, August, 2005
"Emile Poulquet, age 84, a former official of France's World War II Vichy regime, condemned thousands of fellow citizens to death camps. After decades of hiding and several plastic surgeries, he is apprehended and tried but not convicted for lack of anyone who could identify him. After escaping from the Paris prison in which he might be taken for a new trial, Poulquet returns to the scene of his crimes, a town in southern France. This quintessential French bureaucrat spends the rest of the novel rationalizing his conduct while tracking down past acquaintances. Meeting up with a band of teenage "wastrels" who offer shelter and companionship, he little suspects that he faces the biggest betrayal of all. Meidav . . . skillfully exposes the criminal mind that refuses to accept responsibility for its acts and instead blames the victim. A highly impressive and original treatment of the Holocaust; recommended for all literary and French history collections." Edward Cone, New York, Library Journal, July, 2005
By turns epic and intimate, reflective and slyly humorous, Meidav's new novel limns the gray zone between past and future, and it poignantly describes one man's tragic attempt to come to terms with the past.
Winner of the Bard Fiction Prize A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of the YearAn Electric Review Best Book of the YearA ReadySteadyBook Best Book of the Year It's 1999 and Emile Poulquet awaits sentencing in a Paris court for deporting thousands to almost certain death during World War II. But, haunted by ghosts from his former life, and determined to confront his dark legacy, he escapes and heads toward his beloved Finier, a rural town in the south of France where he once served as prefect. His return will have explosive consequences. By turns reflective and slyly humorous, Crawl Space poignantly describes one man's tragic attempt to come to terms with the past.
About the Author
Edie Meidav is the author of The Far Field: A Novel of Ceylon. Winner of the Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for Fiction by an American Woman, she teaches at the New College of California and is currently in residence at Bard College.