145 pages (in my library's large print edition) of absolute magic. This story will make you cry whilst filling you with hope and joy. Two middle aged men meet on a park bench. The two men do not share a language but they share so much. One is a native of the western country, presumably France, where they meet, he is a widower still grieving the loss of his wife. The other appears to be much older, life-ravaged and is also grieving. His is the loss of his wife years ago, his son and daughter in law and all their small village of 12 families by war. His past is now only memories, lost smells, one faded photo of him and his wife and the babe in his arms. They friendship blossoms over cigarettes and talking even though neither understands the others words they understand the sentiments. Monsieur Bark mistakes the other's good day greeting of Tao-lai as his name and the child's Sang diu as Sans Dieu. This mistake is not a problem until it is.
This is the first work I've read by Philippe Claudel and I found it to be a well crafted, hugely moving, short read.