To Live Out Loud, an historical novel by Paulette Mahurin, hit me like a combination of To Kill a Mockingbird and The Crucible. In the violently anti-Semitic France of 1895, Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew, was convicted of treason in a hasty military court martial. Emile Zola, already a noted “man of letters,” picked up the Dreyfus case and went through numerous court proceedings to exonerate Dreyfus.
This novel is exceptionally timely in today’s world. In America, at least, there is a pervasive bigotry against Muslims, with the bigots espousing that every Muslim is a terrorist. Muslims today are subjected to the same sense of hostility and hatred Jews of 1900 France or African Americans of 1950 (and ongoing) America experienced, leading the reader to question whether we as a people will EVER learn.
This novel intentionally reads more like a newspaper article or a documentary than a fictional story. As the author explains in her foreword, To Live Out Loud is based strongly on documented historical fact and court records, letters, and transcripts of the time. The Dreyfus Affair, as it was known, is an example of one of the grossest, most egregious miscarriages of justice in French history, and is a warning to us even today of the ongoing imperative for the separation of church and state.