THE SCREAM by Laurent Graff, Book Review

The Scream Synopsis 

The Scream by Laurent GraffThe apparently simple story of a toll-collector who works in a booth on the motorway, watching people come and go, while his life remains static. But then an invisable force begins taking over, its only tell-tale sign, a terrible, obliterating sound like a scream, that seems to come from nowhere. As time goes by, the flow of traffic on the motorway slows and diminishes. The world appears to be coming to an end…

An ode to love and loss comparable to the work of Samuel Beckett, in which everything is both ordinary and extraordinary and every man is truly an island…

Translated by Cheryl Robson and Claire Alejo (Aurora Metro Books)


The Scream is the recently released English translation by Cheryl Robson & Claire Alejo of the French title Le Cri by Laurent Graff first published in 2006.  At only 156 pages this short novel is an example of wonderful things coming in small packages.

It’s deceptively simple opening and easy to read prose belies the depths that lurk beneath.  The painfully honest narrative quickly captures the reader.

I haven’t travelled much in my life. The truth is – I’ve never been on a plane. When I was with my parents, we went on a holiday in this country, never went abroad. Later on, I never felt any desire to go much further. Either you go around the world – or you stay and watch it go around. But in the end, you see the same thing. I tend to think that travelling requires a lot of energy and an incredible commitment to maintain a few captivating delusions. I don’t have a thirst for new horizons, a crazy appetite for foreign lands, or the need for a change of scenery. Even when the landscape changes, in reality, you haven’t moved. Wherever you go, you always follow the same road. The one that carries you along.

The tension and sense of foreboding evoked in this novel is palpable.

The last driver came past earlier today. In a dreadful state – his eyes staring horribly, a scream bursting from his lips, his face distorted, his body crushed.

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The Scream by Laurent Graff is hypnotic – like watching a disaster unfold in slow motion behind protective glass.

In amongst the depths of despair there are some moments of stark beauty – poignant observations of human nature magnified by the context within which they are observed.

All credit to translators Robson and Alejo, for while I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the translation, I can vouch for it not reading  like a translation. I can only imagine how challenging it would be to translate something so subtle and metaphorical as this work is. I also think the cover art created for this English translation is superb.

The Scream by Laurent Graff is a luminous and powerful piece of writing – I highly recommend it.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4.5 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5

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BOOK DETAILS: The Scream (Amazon); The Scream (B&N); The Scream (AuroraMetro)

Genre: Literature, FantasyThriller

Other reviews of The Scream: Book Oxygen

* My receiving this title free from Aurora Metro Books did not affect my ability to express my honest opinions in this book review.