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Paris attacks widower turns defiant message into book

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The Bataclan concert hall was shuttered after last year's 13 November attacks in Paris Reuters/Benoit Tessier/file

A new book by a French journalist whose wife died during the 13 November attacks last year in Paris has sold out its initial print run. Called Vous n’aurez pas ma haine ("You won't have my hatred"), the book is already being translated into 18 languages.


"You stole the life of an exceptional being, the love of my life, the mother of my son, but you won't have my hatred," Antoine Leiris posted on Facebook after identifying the body of his 35-year-old wife, Helene. She was one of 90 concertgoers killed by jihadists at the Bataclan concert venue on 13 November, 2015.

The measured remarks quickly went viral as people sought to make sense of the violence, which claimed 130 lives across the French capital.

Nearly five months later, an initial print run of 30,000 copies of Leiris's account has already sold out, and the book is in a second printing.

Leiris's story starts with the fateful night when Leiris stayed at home with the couple's son, then 17 months old, while his wife left for the concert by US group Eagles of Death Metal.

A former presenter on French public radio, Leiris recalls how he watched in horror as the first images of the attacks began appearing on the television news.

"My heart was in my mouth," he wrote.

Then came the interminable scramble for word on his wife and the visits to hospitals.

He says his wife's sister eventually broke the news of his wife's death.

Father-son bond

Most of the book centres on the couple's now 22-month old child, and the vital bond between father and son.

Leiris talks about how the mothers at his son's nursery school have rallied around the pair, "unable to cope with the thought of these two poor guys alone in a big house without mum", he writes.

He says each day one of them makes a little meal for his son with "the taste of a mother's love".

Leiris says the experience has left him more resilient and humble. Shortly after his wife's death, Leiris wrote on Facebook: "Looking at things from afar you always have the impression that someone who survives the worst is a hero. I'm not so sure. Fate struck, that's all."

- with AFP