darkly excellent... The basic material of the French novelist Hubert Mingarelli’s Four Soldiers... might seem unpromising, but out of it he has crafted a moving work... It ends in swift, shambolic disaster. Such is the entire narrative arc of this extraordinarily spare work. The soldiers are uneducated peasants. Rather than accessing their emotions, Mingarelli tells it all through their actions, so that even dicing for cigarettes reveals the bond they share. The novel has an elemental quality that is entirely right for the pitilessness of war.
a master of lyrical restraint... Mingarelli is extraordinarily adept at assembling whole worlds out of carefully assorted details. He has a dramatist’s sense of unities of time and place – the brief spring by the pond – conspiring to delay the delivery of the brutal diktat of tragedy... Mingarelli can, however, count himself lucky in having Sam Taylor as his translator in English... Taylor has once again brought to an English-speaking readership a troubling and compelling tale of memory and fragility from a matchless stylist.
In prose so simple and direct it’s like the stark landscape surrounding them, Mingarelli leaves as much unspoken as do his characters, letting deeper truths emerge from Benia’s narration. As brief as this captivating novella is, it’s a rich study of companionship and loyalty among men in combat.