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Publication in France:
25 January 2018

304 pages


Christian Blanchard

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Is a life sentence worse than a death sentence?

28 October 1980. Jefferson Petitbois, who has been sentenced to death, is incarcerated in the prison of Fresnes. When returning to his cell on death row, he has to walk past the guillotine. Like an outrage to human dignity and a V-sign to life itself, the machinery of death occupies pride of place in the courtyard. Escorted by two wardens, he brushes by it and can smell the grease and the iron filings.
Two years previously, Jefferson met Max, his protector and mentor. He introduced him to Iboga, a truly terrible psychotropic drug that had rendered him powerful, immortal even. And had turned him into a murderer.

This book tells the story of Jefferson Petitbois… A man too young to die. And indeed he will live, because with the abolition of the death penalty his sentence is commuted to life imprisonment, whereupon a vast chasm opens up before the prisoner, who is gradually forgotten. How do you lead a life when there is no longer anything to look forward to? When the daily prison routine consists of the screws doing the rounds and the violence of one’s fellow prisoners, and you are all alone with your thoughts? And so Jefferson revisits his past, and it is the truth of his situation that he recounts here.

A powerful book about guilt and doubt, which blends suspense with reflections on society.


After studying sociology, Christian Blanchard devoted himself to writing. He is the author of six novels, almost all of which have won prizes. Iboga is his first novel to be published by Belfond.

More information in french