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Noah's Child

Written by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

Shoot the Book! @ TIFF 2016 - SELECTED BOOK

Over than 2 millions copies sold

1942: Joseph Bernstein, 7 years old, is the only child of a Jewish family threatened with internment. His mother, afraid that arrests will begin in her neighbourhood, takes him to the Countess of Sully before trying to warn her family.

For his protection, Joseph is left under the name of Joseph Bertin at the Villa Jaune, an orphanage run by Father Pons, a rural priest, a “righteous one”, who, with the help of the villagers, saves Jewish children by concealing their identities, in complicity with Miss Marcelle, who delivers fake papers to the children. With him and young Rudy, a sturdy clumsy boy (but cleverer than it seems), Joseph learns to keep his name, his history and his emotions secret; he experiences fear, enquiries and denunciations. He will learn about friendship but also discover Christianity and Judaism by reading sacred texts. Under his church, in the crypt, Father Pons has installed a secret synagogue. At night, he studies the Torah, the Cabbala and collects objects of worship…

He teaches them Hebrew, considering these Jewish children as the future witnesses of massacres, as being responsible for the perpetuation of the Jewish language and religion.

He says he is a “collector” and, just like Noah, wants to save human beings threatened by history’s Flood.

Who will he become?

At the end of the War, Joseph is lucky enough to see his parents again, but the reunion isn’t simple:

“One doesn’t meet again by simply kissing each other. In three years, they had become strangers to me, probably because I had changed. They had left a child and found an adolescent.”

Fifty years later, Joseph is in Israel. He shows us that history is a constant succession of new beginnings and encourages tolerance: “Being in favour of Israel does not mean approving all Israel’s decisions. One must make peace with the Palestinians. It is their territory too. The very history of our persecution should lead us to deliver the words that we ourselves have been waiting for centuries.”

And Joseph himself starts a collection...

Publisher: Albin Michel

Number of Pages: 198

Genre: Drama


Belgium, 1942-1945 (or another European country during WWII)

Film rights available.

Foreign editions : French / English / German / Bulgarian / Castilian / Chinese / Corsican / Finnish / Georgian / Greek / Hebraic / Hungarian / Italian / Dutch / Norwegian / Polish / Romanian / Russian / Czech / Turkish / Ukrainian

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