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Michaël Ferrier: In Search of the Fault Line

All around us the world is shaking. Where are the fault lines? How do we describe them, reveal them? For what purpose? These are perhaps the first questions a writer must ask themself today, in these devastating times.

‘As I write, highly civilized human beings are flying overhead, trying to kill me.’ This is the first sentence, slightly paranoid, of George Orwell’s text “The Lion and the Unicorn” (Why I Write, 1940, Penguin Books, 1984). Today, this sentence seems more cruel and more urgent than ever. The question ‘Why do you write?’ is one of the most frequently asked of any writer. To this question there are many answers, often contradictory, and it is not even certain that the writer is the best person to answer it!

However, it is not useless to attempt doing so: through the answers of various authors (Samuel Beckett, Georges Perec, Pierre Guyotat...) and using the examples of my own books, I will try to show that writing can lead not only to a literary or aesthetic debate, but also to a redefinition of our presence in the world. At a time when our world is literally collapsing under our eyes, this seems more fragile, but also more vital than ever.

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Michaël Ferrier is the inaugural resident of the Jules Verne Writing Residency at Ohio State. He’s the author of numerous books published by Editions Gallimard, including Tokyo, petits portraits de l’aube (2004), Fukushima, récit d’un désastre (2012), and Mémoires d’outre-mer (2015), translated as Over Seas of Memory in 2019. A Recipient of numerous literary awards and honors (Edouard Glissant Prize, Décembre Prize, Jacques Lacarrière Prize…), Dr. Ferrier is also Professor of French at the prestigious Chuo University in Tokyo, Japan, where he directs the research group: “In the Face of Alterity: The Image of the Others in Arts and Society.”

Sponsored by Department of French and Italian, the Center of Excellence at Ohio State, the French consulate in Chicago, the French Cultural Services in the United States, the French Embassy’s Center of Excellence Network, and the Office of International Affairs at Ohio State.