Saturday, August 1, 2020


Alex Landragin is a writer whose fiction explores place, migration and literature's formal potential. He has also worked as a copywriter, travel writer, journalist, librarian, indigenous community worker, wine merchant and musician.

Landragin was born in France and migrated to Australia as a child. He has previously resided in Marseille, Alice Springs, Paris, New Orleans, Los Angeles and Washington DC. He currently lives in Melbourne, Australia.

Landragin applied the Page 69 Test to his debut novel, Crossings, and reported the following:
Crossings consists of three stories. Page 69 finds us near the beginning of the second of the three stories, a kind of literary detective noir set in Paris in 1940 on the eve of the German occupation called ‘City of Ghosts’. In the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris during a German bombing raid, the narrator, an exiled Jewish-German writer, meets and begins falling in love with a mysterious woman called Madeleine. They spend a night together and return to the cemetery the next day to find a pistol the woman lost the previous day at the time of the raid. They pass a poster issued by the Ministry of the Interior declaring: ‘Expatriate Germans living in France – You must report immediately to the nearest police station.’ Madeleine tells the narrator that he should leave Paris, but he replies, “I’m like you. I have nowhere to go.” Because of a missing piece of paperwork, he’s stuck in a legal limbo.

The Page 69 test works well for Crossings as this page is a good introduction to the novel, and to the romance at its core. It begins at the point where the two characters have kissed for the first time and when they pass the poster they are walking hand in hand for the first time. Without giving too much away, the two characters have met several times before. At this point of the story, Madeleine is aware of this but he is not. In fact, Madeleine has spent a good part of her existence looking for him, and now, on the eve of catastrophe, they have found each other by accident. The page is also an introduction to the themes of migration and displacement that are woven throughout the novel, especially in this section of the novel. The narrator will continue to flee the Germans until he is finally backed into a corner and can run no more.

I should also add that, because Crossings is a novel that can be read in two different sequences, page 69 has a slightly different significance depending which sequence you’re reading. If you read the novel in the alternative sequence, ‘City of Ghosts’ is the story that frames the entire novel, and you will read page 69 slightly earlier than if you had read it the other way. So the story, and this page, have more importance read in this way than if you read the book conventionally.
Visit Alex Landragin's website.

--Marshal Zeringue