Looking up at the 8th floor of a tower in the 13th arrondissement of Paris, Agnès mentally joins Boris and Tsila, her grandparents, and all those who once lived in the same building. On Rue du Château-des-Rentiers, these Jews of Central European origin had once invented a life in community, a phalanstery. Time has passed, but it doesn’t matter because, thanks to the imagination, one can simultaneously be 17, 22, 53, and 90 years old: the past and the present overlap, the years collide, and the utopia experienced by Boris and Tsila becomes Agnès’s own project. Growing old? Yes, but in the company of those we love.
That is the lesson of this novel, full of humor and riddles—what does the Garden of Eden look like? What is the exact recipe for walnut cake? What is a story told to the deaf by the mute?—, which takes us on a dizzying journey through the generations.