The traveling houses of Elisa Shua Dusapin

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On the platform, when you get off the train, you feel like the cats lurking in her novels, deliciously dumped. And then we lose our way, as in the mists of his fictions. The address was nevertheless central, “Grand-Rue, in Porrentruy”, had said Elisa Shua Dusapin. “Take the street in front of the station, it’s straight ahead.” We went in the opposite direction, obviously, and we had to sheepishly call the writer to the rescue.

While walking to meet him, we think back to what makes the charm of his stories. A side Lost in the translation, the famous Sofia Coppola film, where Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson wander in a Tokyo palace. In Winter in Sokcho, who revealed it in 2016, as in his recent Vladivostok Circus, hailed by author Camille Laurens in The world, it expands this strangeness which seizes the traveler in front of the unknown. A matter of language that escapes you. Suddenly questionable code. This shift is the one that Nathalie, the narrator of Vladivostok Circus. She is 22 years old, she designs costumes and she finds herself in a circus by the ocean, enlisted by a trio specializing in the Russian bar.

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To be afraid, we imagine for a moment performing a somersault on a bar carried by two Hercules. This is when Elisa Shua Dusapin falls from the sky, ink blue coat in the white daylight, allure of a ballerina in civilian clothes. Porrentruy is the town where she grew up, she says on the deserted road. On the left hand, houses are crowded like notables after the banquet. On a grid, a plaque indicates Florent Dusapin, acupuncturist and naturopath. Just below, another name, Kyung-ah Lee Dusapin, consultant in feng shui.

They are her parents, those to whom she owes so much, she confided later. His father, French, gave him a taste for endless hikes, in the meadows of the Jura or on the beaches of Normandy. He initiated her to taekwondo, Korean martial art in which he excels. Kyung-ah, who had so many lives – a student with a passion for medieval French literature, a radio journalist in Zurich, a store manager – gave her a taste for metamorphosis.

Kneeling in her living room, in front of the coffee table where a red Italian coffee maker smells, Elisa, 28, says that she is only passing through. She has just moved into this Main Street, just in front of the library where, as a child, she sometimes waited for her mother, watching her through the window, perched on a stepladder. In two months, she will settle elsewhere, probably in Lausanne to get closer to the artists with whom she works. A bell rings. A hit in the winter sky. It is the Saint-Pierre church, close to the Sainte Ursule School, which gives a sepia air to the afternoon. The elegance of a parenthesis.

Hanging gardens

Elisa Shua Dusapin goes up the alleys of her springs, flexible like the calamus of the scribes of yesteryear. She opens doors in her memory and our eyes wander from one hanging garden to another. On a table, two garden roses sigh in a glass of water. In the kitchen, a ficus is annoyed by the snoring of a dwarf with a protruding nose. The interior of Elisa is a series of itinerant houses: around a tree, novels draw oriental routes. The Eighth Day Cicada of Mitsuyo Kakuta nudges Make love of Jean-Philippe Toussaint. Marguerite Duras is spellbinding on the Mekong. Yoko Ogawa releases songbirds.

Writing was therefore his karma, one gets carried away under the influence of coffee. Journalists have noisy formulas. Elisa corrects. As a teenager, she danced in a tutu, circled on the ice, patrolled the meadows, manipulated tongues like so many enchanted keys. Korean first with his grandparents who landed in the 1970s in Switzerland, in Trogen, where they ran the Korean orphanage of Pestalozzi Village, German sometimes, French with his parents and three sisters, the English with relatives.

A bazaar room

And her room, what was it like? A mess, she laughs, which frightened her mother. Rioting clothes unraveled the borders of night and day, stacked books took on the appearance of buoys in a dismantled lake, epics flowed unexpectedly from a can of paint – even today she draws all of them. his stories, before writing them.

This chaos is a melting pot. At 18, her matu obtained, she takes off “to put her life in order”. She would like to be an actress – she was in Geneva, in a version of Suppliants of Aeschylus ridden by Maya Bösch. She would like there to be less vagueness in her desires. She would like to renew the thread shared by her grandparents. She would like to make the most of this feeling that she always has of being between two worlds. So she goes, on the rails, in the air, with her companion, a television director. She poses a barda in Korea, in Japan, in Russia later, in seedy hotels, bouis-bouis where adventurers put up their failures.

In memory, she keeps precious pages, a part of her unveiled for her maturity, texts which made the admiration of her teachers. When she anchors herself in Biel, at the Swiss Literary Institute, it is to these pages that she returns. It gives them a romantic inflection. Caroline Coutau, who heads Editions Zoé in Geneva, is thrilled. Winter in Sokcho appeared in 2016, at Zoé, therefore, like the two novels that will follow. Critics are enthusiastic, readers spread the word. “I told myself that I would be a writer for six months and that I would resume my studies of literature in Lausanne.”

Shadow of a cat

Three blows have just struck. Saint-Pierre is theatrical. Chick joined the conversation. It was Elisa’s cat, the one who accompanied her for so many years, the one who lives again in Vladivostok Circus, also the one to whom she dedicated this book. She tells how with her second novel, The Pachinko Marbles, she felt like she was settling scores with herself. Claire, the heroine, finds her Korean grandparents in Tokyo where they run a Pachinko salon. She would like to bring them back to their native country. But the gap suddenly seems so big.

Vladivostok Circus is a course, she breathes. “I was on the Trans-Siberian and I had the feeling that I was writing without losing my pen.” For the first time, she had the conviction that she could write all her life. Despite the exhaustion that punishes each of her books, despite the slowness with which she puts down her words.

When she walks in the countryside, everything lights up, she continues. Projects are emerging from the woods. These days she adapts The Nightingale and the Emperor of China, Andersen’s tale, for Joan Mompart, future director of the Théâtre Am Stram Gram in Geneva. When the coronavirus and its supporters have lifted the siege, she hopes to perform in poetic, punk or rock recitals with musical friends. His dream? Write a children’s book, which would be illustrated by her sisters.

“Children’s books, when they are successful, touch me more than those for adults. It’s so hard to do. ” On a stepladder throne A Sacred Santa Claus, this classic from Raymond Briggs. It’s a gift. “All I own are gifts.” She only keeps the most talkative, those who cheer up, speak indiscriminately, move unexpectedly.

The church of Saint-Pierre is still ringing. But we no longer count. We prefer to improvise a clairvoyance session. “What will you have done in ten years?” “I will have written other books, I will have a family, who knows, children. And I will be even closer to nature. I grew up on a horse. ” She will also laugh a lot in front of her keyboard as when she was writing Winter in Sokcho and that the shock of the “o’s” made her happy. Soon, of course, she will resume her Trans-Siberian prose, the one where the cities are always choppy, the promising mists and the deltas open to the unknown like the palms of sailors.

On the way back, on the station platform, the image of a cat pursues you. This is Chick, tabby figure, as it appears on the cover of Vladivostok Circus. He wears a jacket, a white dandy shirt and is seen in a mirror. That’s all Elisa’s mischief. Its Magic Circus. His pop and funny way of dressing our dreams.

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