A FRIEND OF THE FAMILY by Yves Ravey
Translated by Emma Ramadan & Tom Roberge
Fans of the Billy Bob Thornton film Sling Blade will immediately recognise that awful sense of impending disaster in the opening pages of Ravey’s wonderfully menacing novella, A Friend of the Family. From the outset we learn of Freddy, the family bogeyman, who was sent to prison for raping a young girl. For as long as the narrator can remember, Freddy has been the subject of regular warnings to him and his beautiful sister, Clémence. So when, having served his time, Freddy turns up at their door, the family is immediately put on edge.
His mother, Madame Rebernak, does all she can to convince the authorities of the ongoing threat but they show little concern. They dismiss her as paranoid and unforgiving. Thankfully, their family friend, the town notary, is able to pull some strings, just like he always has since her husband’s death. But there is something off about him, something sinister behind his sprightly altruism.
As the various threads tighten towards its genuinely shocking climax, the reader must confront their own biases regarding redemption and rehabilitation and, perhaps most disturbingly, question the very foundations of their trust.
A Friend of the Family by Yves Ravey (Tr. Emma Ramadan & Tom Roberge)
Sublunary Editions, 2022