Writer witness of the XXth In this century, Dominique Lapierre could not conceive of writing about the inequalities of the world without committing himself as a citizen to try to resolve some of them.
Since adolescence, Dominique Lapierre has had a taste for discovery. Then a high-school student, he undertook a big trip to Mexico alone and without a penny in his pocket. From palaver to contortion, he managed to embark in Rotterdam on a cargo ship bound for New Orleans. Briefly washing tiles in a Catholic convent, he earns the few pennies that will allow him – on foot, by hitchhiking and by car – to reach Mexico City and continue his empty journey through North America. “I was eighteen years old. I was juggling my little globe. Life was amazing,” he said. World the return of this expedition worthy of an initiatory novel. On his return, his comrades call him «The Mexican», he receives the grand prize of the Zellidja Foundation and Bernard Grasset publishes under the title A dollar a thousand miles the story of this crazy adventure. As in the novels that will earn him a resounding success for more than fifty years: the character is camped.
Dominique Lapierre’s appetite will provide him with the material for many of his novels. Both a writer and journalist, he feeds on his travels and his encounters by mixing rigor with curiosity. In 1964, with the dissection of a vast amount of archival documents, he co-wrote Is Paris on fire with Larry Collins. This text, which depicts the struggle of Paris for its Liberation at the end of the Second World War and will later be adapted to cinema, is the first great success of the writer.
Both journalist and novelist, Dominique Lapierre chooses above all subjects that touch his heart and makes his texts a tool to reveal injustice in the open and try to fight it. Afflicted by poverty during his travels in India, Dominique Lapierre is passionate about the history of the subcontinent, travels there regularly and learns Bengali before publishing in 1985, The City of Joy. He describes the journey of religious who work in the slums of Calcutta. This poignant story, both a whistleblower and a melting pot of hope for what he called “despite the curse…a cathedral of joy, vitality and hope”, won over French and foreign readers. By creating an eponymous Foundation, Dominique Lapierre then devoted a large part of her copyright to supporting humanitarian action, especially in the field of health, in India. He will remain faithful to this financial support and commitment throughout his life.
A prolific writer, Dominique Lapierre constantly renewed her subjects: since O Jerusalem until It was midnight in Bhopal through Once upon a time the USSR, he delighted readers with the depth of his descriptions - Eastern cities, Russian steppes and landscapes of the Indian subcontinent. These novels which arouse as many dreams as they arouse, he wrote them sometimes alone, sometimes alongside brothers of pen such as Larry Collins, Javier Moro or Jean-Pierre Pedrazzini, symbol, if it is, of the taste for the sharing of the author.
A traveller, storyteller and philanthropist, Dominique Lapierre has always ensured that the echo of her literature is not limited to fine words. Today we lose a great writer, generous in his texts and generous in his life.
I extend my deepest condolences to his family and loved ones.