The Origins

Agnès Desarthe, Fabrice Humbert, Michael Arditti

19/02/2012 2:30 pm
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Both Agnès Desarthe and Fabrice Humbert have written novels about men embarking on a difficult investigation into their own past and the secrets that were kept from them, both taken back to the horrors of WW2.

In Fabrice Humbert’s novel, The Origin of Violence, the trigger is a photograph seen during a visit to Buchenwald concentration camp. In Agnès Desarthe’s The Foundling, it is a fatal accident.

The two novelists spoke to Michael Arditti about their fascination with exploring the darkest hours of the twentieth century and their impact today.

Agnès Desarthe

Agnès Desarthe has written many books for children and teenagers, as well as adult fiction. Five Photos of My Wife which was short-listed for theIndependent Foreign Fiction Prize and the Jewish Quarterly Fiction Prize. She is also the author of Good Intentions.

Fabrice Humbert

Fabrice Humbert won the Prix Renaudot and the first French Orange Prize for The Origin of Violence. He teaches in a Franco-German lycée.

Michael Arditti


Michael Arditti is the prize-winning author of ten works of fiction and one collection of short stories, including Of Men and Angels, Easter, The Breath of Night and The Enemy of the Good. Michael reviews for several newspapers and appears regularly on BBC Radio 4.