Hunting and Gathering by Anna Gavalda was published and beloved in France in 2004, and finally made its way into translation in 2007. It crossed my path when one of my friends who worked in publishing got ahold of a galley that she fell in love with immediately and then passed it on to at least 2 other friends. Somehow I am the one left with the galley, and I’ve recommended the book to countless people since. When I finished it this week, I was so glad I decided to reread it and so sad when it ended again.
When I talk to my students about conflicts in books, I usually end up using the terms macro and micro: what are the big societal issues affecting the plot, and what are the more personal issues affecting the plot? Hunting and Gather is a micro-issue kind of book. It doesn’t speak into the larger culture, but it does allow us to see how human connection–though messy as hell–can impact the trajectory of one’s life. It is the kind of book that isn’t challenging, but simply lovely to get lost in for a week.
Camille is a starving artist, both literally and figuratively, when we meet her–talented, withdrawn, lonely. Philabert is a history loving, nervous post-card seller whose stutter and anxiety has left him rather hopeless, and his interests and manners seem better suited for another time in history. Franck is his unlikely roommate, a chef who works hard, plays hard, and doesn’t often take much time to think about his underlying anger or unhappiness or the fact that the grandmother who raised him is falling apart. These four people find their lives entangled when Philabert rescues Camille from from her lowest point and moves her into his apartment.
So this book may not change the way you look at the world, but it may inspire you to think on the small, beautiful things of the world, which is always a worthwhile pursuit.