“Shipwreck” by Vincent Delecroix

“Shipwreck” by Vincent Delecroix is ​​a short novel, a free interpretation of a tragedy. On the night of November 23 to 24, 2021, a boat loaded with migrants was shipwreck in the English Channel, 27 refugees drowned. The investigation will reveal that they had called for help from French emergency services on 18 occasions…

With Shipwreckpublished by Editions Gallimard, Vincent Delecroix interprets a drama that is all too common today, occurring in November 2021, the sinking ofan inflatable boat carrying migrants, which had leaves 27 dead near Calais. The investigation revealed thatNumerous calls for help from migrants had arrived at Cross Gris-Nez, but the center regional operational surveillance and rescue had not triggered the dispatch of help.

And Vincent Delecroix is ​​interested in the one who is at the center of the investigation, an operator at this search and rescue center. Why didn’t this woman send help to the sea? Recordings of exchanges between a castaway and the operator have been found, and there are notably these cruel sentences where she says to her interlocutor, increasingly panicked: “You won’t be saved anyway.”. Or : “I didn’t ask you to go to sea”.

And the author takes us into what is first of all a tête-à-tête between this Cross operator and a gendarme, a gendarme from the maritime prefecture who is leading the investigation. Vincent Delecroix imagines what this accused operator thinks, an ordinary woman, mother of a little girl, a woman without history, who is internally indignant during this hearing. Why should I, a link in a poorly functioning chain, have more responsibility than others in this disaster?

After all, why her, more than the sea, than the war, than the crises which cause these tragedies, and through this remorseless woman? Vincent Delecroix involves us. This woman is a bit like us, in our cowardice and our ability to look elsewhere and find justifications.

Heartbreaking pages

And this is where the book becomes quite bright. The author is also interested, in a second part, in the shipwreck itself. With moving pages. It makes a rather brutal counterpoint. The author describes this fragile boat, the tubes of this semi-rigid boat which begin to deflate in the middle of the night and the English Channel, the castaways who begin to escape, the shipwrecked who fall into the water, the calls for help. help at first panicked, then resigned, the freezing cold which anesthetizes the bodies, the silence, the night, the water for those who do not resist very long. And then death, abandoned in the middle of the Channel.

Striking pages which contrast with the apparent distance of this operator. Vincent Delecroix offers us a novel which obviously cannot leave us indifferent in the current context. Subtle novel in its construction, Shipwreck was selected in the first selection of Goncourt, which will be awarded this year on Tuesday, November 7.

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