“A tragic love story [and] a powerful account of historical injustice.” Publishers Weekly

Franco-Mauritian author Caroline Laurent’s latest novel An Impossible Return is an epic love story set against the shocking injustice of the Mauritian government’s deal with Britain for independence – which resulted in the wholesale evacuation of the Chagos Islands to enable the US to set up a strategic military base on Diego Garcia. When independent, passionate Marie is drawn to dashing new arrival Gabriel, she has no idea he is party to the independence negotiations. Can their burgeoning romance survive this betrayal…?

Where are you now? 

In the very south of New Zealand, in the fantastic Fjordlands, living as a wild girl in the bush!

Where and when do you do most of your writing? 

At home, in Paris, during the night.

If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?

I have none.

Full-time or part-time? 

It depends on what I have to do, but when possible, full-time.

Pen or keyboard? 

Keyboard… But pen and notebook before, just to keep my ideas fresh and alive.

How do you relax when you’re writing?

I walk…

How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?

It’s an autobiography beginning in darkness that goes towards a blinding light.

Who do you write for? 

I don’t know! Probably for myself, but also for people who are not considered by society, people that nobody listens to.

Who do you share your work in progress with? 

I share my work in progress with nobody, except with my own anxiety!

Which literary character do you wish you created? 

Alice in Wonderland?

Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose. 

To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee, 
One clover, and a bee.
And revery. 
The revery alone will do, 
If bees are few.
Emily Dickinson

Which book do you wish you’d written? 

À la recherche du temps perdu by Marcel Proust.

Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed? 

Deborah Levy’s The Cost of Living. A wonderful book.

What’s on your bedside table or e-reader? 

Katherine Mansfield’s Journal.

Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet? 

War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy.

Which book/s do you treasure the most? 

All those that I keep in my personal library. I don’t keep the others.

What is the last work you read in translation? 

Virginia Woolf’s A Writer’s Diary.

Which story collections would you particularly recommend? 

All those written by Raymond Carver.

What will you read next? 

Women in Love by D.H. Lawrence.

What are you working on next? 

My next novel, which will deal with New Zealand…

Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?  

Anaïs Nin, Flaubert, Don Quixote, Rimbaud and Marguerite Duras. Oh gosh!

If you weren’t writing you’d be…? 

What I also am: an editor.

If you were the last person on Earth, what would you write? 

Probably nothing: you don’t write if you are sure to have no readers…

How can we make peace with our planet? 

Maybe if we continue to see its beauty… But it’s a very demanding question.

Caroline Laurent is the bestselling Franco-Mauritian author of Rivage de la colère, winner of the Prix Maison de la Presse 2020, the Prix Louis-Guilloux 2020, and the Prix du Salon du Livre du Mans 2020, and now published in English as An Impossible Return. She also co-wrote, with Évelyne Pisier, Et soudain, la liberté (And Suddenly, Freedom), which won the Grand Prix des Lycéennes de ELLE. An Impossible Return, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman, is published by Amazon Crossing in hardback and paperback, and also available in Kindle and Audible editions.
Read more

Author portrait © Philippe Matsas

Jeffrey Zuckerman has translated many French works into English, including books by the artists Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Dardenne brothers; Jean Genet and Hervé Guibert; and the Mauritian novelists Ananda Devi, Shenaz Patel and Carl de Souza. A graduate of Yale University, he has been a finalist for the TA First Translation Prize, the French-American Foundation Translation Prize and the PEN Translation Prize, and has been awarded a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and the French Voices Grand Prize. In 2020 he was named a Chevalier in the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French government.

Read an extract from An Impossible Return