“I had a friend once. I met him on a winter’s day quite long ago, leaping out of his car and bounding up the steps of Franklin High School. That’s the most enduring memory I have of him, an unrivaled impression of radiance and beauty – the shimmering colors of an era when all my sensations were intense. Frozen on those steps, filled with admiration and shame, I was lost in my state of “newness,” lost in myself. He saved me – from others, from my own youth. Years later, when this man had become a hated figure, I tried to save him. I wanted people to know who he really was.”
When Adam Vollmann, a reporter for The New Yorker, sees an image of the subject of a manhunt appear on the screens above Times Square, he recognizes him right away: it’s Ethan Shaw. Handsome Ethan, who 20 years earlier had been the star of their high school and his only friend, has been accused of raping and murdering a young Mexican woman. Refusing to believe in his guilt, Adam returns to Drysden, where they knew each other, to launch an investigation. But as he confronts the past, all his certainties are shaken…
A breathtaking novel and virtuosic meditation on the power of storytelling, The World Does Not Exist is a dizzying interrogation of a society blinded by lies, where reality and fiction are one and the same.
Just imagine: you find yourself in Times Square, in midtown New York, when suddenly a photo of your childhood best friend appears on the giant screens. It’s really him, Ethan Shaw, the high school golden boy, rising star from the small town of Drysden. For the narrator, Adam Vollmann, Ethan was a savior: by extending his friendship, he enabled Adam to fit in. And this same man now stands accused of raping and killing an adolescent, wanted across the country!
Adam, a journalist, will launch an investigation and head back to where it all started. But no one can retrace their past unscathed. And what Adam will discover about Ethan, the victim and himself could change everything. In this novel conceived as a thriller by design, nothing is familiar: the characters prove elusive, the hall of mirrors perfect, and reality, in the land of Donald Trump, dangerously resembles fiction. Amidst a David Lynch-like atmosphere and against a backdrop of fake news, the author interrogates identity, what lies hidden behind names, and our relationship with the truth. A fascinating treasure hunt in which we get languidly lost and where suspense and manipulation reign supreme. An inspired masterwork.
Journalist & jury member of the Lucien-Barrière Literary Award