This Tilting World

Colette Fellous (Author) Sophie Lewis (Translator)


On the night following the terrorist attack that killed eighty-three tourists on the beach at Sousse, a woman sits facing the sea and writes a complicated love letter to her homeland, Tunisia, which she feels she must leave forever. She also writes of her personal tragedies--the deaths of her father, a quiet man, and of another lifelong friend, who just weeks ago died at sea, having forsaken the writing that had given his life meaning.

Part of a trilogy on the history of Tunisia's Jewish community, Fellous's story nods to Proust and encompasses a multitude of colorful portraits, sweeping readers onto a lyrical journey from Tunisia to Paris to a Flaubertian village in Normandy, full of the voices of loved ones now silent.

Written with echoes of Roland Barthes's gorgeous fragmentary texts, such as A Lover's Discourse and Camera Lucida, Fellous's creative memoir is at once a political and cultural portrait of a region that has sat at the center of world history for millennia, as well as a search into her own memory, emotions, and family history.

Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Two Lines Press
Publish Date
September 10, 2019
4.9 X 0.6 X 7.9 inches | 0.45 pounds
BISAC Categories:

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About the Author

The author of more than twenty novels, including Aujourd'hui (2005), for which she received the Prix Marguerite Duras, and La Préparation de la vie (2014), in which she pays homage to her mentor Roland Barthes, Colette Fellous lives between France and Tunisia. A former publisher, and a radio producer for France Culture, she is also a photographer. This Tilting World is her first book published in English.

Sophie Lewis has been translating fiction and other literature from French since graduating from Oxford University in 2004. Following a stay in Rio de Janeiro, from 2011 to 2015, she began translating from Portuguese. Her translations include works by Stendhal, Jules Verne, Marcel Aymé, Violette Leduc, Emmanuelle Pagano, Natalia Borges Polesso, and João Gilberto Noll. She has pursued a career in publishing alongside translation, running the UK office at Dalkey Archive Press, then as Senior Editor at And Other Stories publisher, and currently as fiction editor at the Folio Society.


A Must-Read New Book of Fall 2019--The Observer
11 Books You Should Read this September --Lit Hub
34 Books You Should Read this Fall --Nylon

"[Fellous] observes the rituals and language that fabricate an identity, focusing on what happens when these things dissolve or become fragmented... This piece of autofiction has a strange and perfectly balanced duality of softness and seriousness. The text is melancholic and nostalgic, but also urgent and of its time." --Guardian

"A moving meditation on exile and identity." --Financial Times

"This Tilting World is a fast-moving reflection on leaving Tunisia following the terrorist attack that killed thirty-eight tourists on the beach at Sousse . . . A meditative nonfiction horror story on the North African coast [that] crashes over the reader in waves."--Nate McNamara, Lit Hub

"In This Tilting World, French-Tunisian novelist Fellous has written something more intimate than a novel . . . Against an act of terrorism that threatened to transform her polyglot Tunisian world of castoff peoples [...] into something unrecognizable, the flight into memory is a refusal to let them be swept away."--San Francisco Chronicle

"[A]n impressionistic journey through and beyond the comforts of nostalgia...This Tilting World is an experience of finding comfort within our own histories, as torn and whirling as they are."--Vol. 1 Brooklyn

"A bewitching, hallucinatory elegy to home and exile, love and death, memory and loss. In precise, haunting prose, Fellous evokes the places and relationships, smells and sounds that make up this jig-saw of memories, set against the violence of contemporary events in Tunisia and France."--Natasha Lehrer

"Colette Fellous' beautiful book, humming and dancing with sensual intelligence, newly vivid in Sophie Lewis's deft, delicate, agile version, takes change and translation as its very themes. It asks us to imagine leaving home, searching for a new home. That home may simply be language itself, a web of knot-ted meanings. However, if that web serves as a rope bridge slung between places and people, and the bridge is cut and falls, survival is put at stake. This Tilting World explores how, after such a rupture, one woman tries to re-compose the meanings of her life and thereby go on living."--Michéle Roberts

". . . a reflection--sensitive and honest--on our present, this impossible present, this threshold between yesterday and a complex future, where we 'see also how our life was entirely manufactured by the political history, even though we thought it belonged to us, that it was 'personal.'"--Diacritik

"Colette Fellous isn't lacking an address, but has two homelands: her birthplace, Tunisia, and her language, French. Between them is an arc, a tension, an energy: that of a double belonging which does not alienate but provides an opening." --Le Monde

"[Fellous] enchants with her way of capturing emotions, sensations, moments, and people. She elegantly opens the doors to the past." --Livres Hebdo