Pedigree is Georges Simenon’s longest, most unlikely, and most adventurous novel, the book that is increasingly seen to lie at the heart of his outsize achievement as a chronicler of modern self and society. In the early 1940s, Simenon began work on a memoir of his Belgian childhood. He showed the initial pages to André Gide, who urged him to turn them into a novel. The result was, Simenon later quipped, a book in which everything is true but nothing is accurate. Spanning the years from the beginning of the century, with its political instability and terrorist threats, to the end of the First World War in 1918, Pedigree is an epic of everyday existence in all its messy unfinished intensity and density, a story about the coming-of-age of a precocious and curious boy and the coming to be of the modern world.
Pedigree is a very beautiful book, filled with humanism and tenderness, a gruff tone and sharp-edged words. A real discovery.
—La Tribune (Paris)
Simenon was born in 1903 in Liège, Belgium. He tells the story of his childhood—his petit-bourgeois upbringing, his scheming mother, the early death of his gentle and unambitious father, the ravages of the war—in Pedigree, the barely fictionalized memoir that is his masterpiece and quite possibly the greatest single work of Belgian literature.
—Luc Sante, New York
Simenon brings to life in Pedigree the whole sensory world of his childhood in Liège. His words capture the sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and textures of the city…Writing in prose that is pictorial and tactile, Simenon in Pedigree does for Liège what the young Joyce did for Dublin: he evokes the city with such immediacy that we feel we’ve walked in its streets.
—Lucille Frackman Becker, Georges Simenon
Simenon is not only a master of suspense, he knows also how to probe so deeply into the minds of his characters as to reveal with remarkable fidelity the more evasive of human motives.