France is a curious country. You can talk about anything here: about paedophilia, about the most shameful passions, but not about our families’ dishonour during the second world war – because that particular past just won’t pass. Especially if you argue that to have taken part in the worst atrocities of the Nazi occupation one didn’t necessarily have to be a monster.
My novels have been read by hundreds of thousands of people in France over the past quarter of a century. I’m reputed to be a lightly apparelled author, drunk on smiley sentimental literature. And then, at nearly 46 years of age – the age at which my father died – I confessed what my immoderate mirth was hiding all along and published a difficult, irrevocable book: Des gens très bien (Very Nice People). This 300-page crime novel, all of a sudden, sparked a crisis.