The History of a Word 02/07/20
Peace and Conflict
Sabatini has written a complex and engrossing novel, which challenges many assumptions we make around truth, courage and responsibility.
Ten-year-old Robert, half Zimbabwean, half Italian, lives in Geneva, an ideally neutral setting for his investigations into the mysterious 'Monsieur Renoir', who lives in the same apartment block. Robert's aunt Delphia, a Zimbabwean conservationist, is arrested and tortured for challenging the government. Despairingly, despite his fear of him, Robert seeks advice from Monsieur Renoir, reputedly a decorated World War II pilot. Their interaction conducted entirely through notes, Robert gains the strength to celebrate his own rich heritage, support his distraught parents, and understand the complicated nature of heroism.