Albertine, the French Embassy's Celebrated Bookshop, To Host Second Annual Festival Albertine

September 25, 2015 | By French Culture

Leading French-speaking and American thinkers & artists to headline free, five-day festival tackling topics from the state of feminism to the future of journalism 

NEW YORK, NY (September 16, 2015) – Cementing its position as New York City’s dynamic new hub for French-American intellectual exchange, Albertine, the celebrated bookshop and reading room operated by the French Embassy, will host the second annual Festival Albertine, a five-day event showcasing leading French-speaking and American thinkers tackling topics ranging from the state of feminism to the future of journalism to efforts to combat climate change.

The New Yorker’s David Remnick, legendary choreographer Yvonne Rainer, graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner (The Diary of a Teenage Girl), Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author Margo Jefferson (Negroland), and author Katie Roiphe (The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism) are among the Americans headlining the free festival. 

They will be joined by a diverse roster of some of the French-speaking world’s most exciting new voices including: Mauretania-born film director Abderrahmane Sissako, whose Timbuktu was a 2015 Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film; Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud, whose retelling of The Stranger from an Arab perspective (The Meursault Investigation) was published in the U.S. this year to wide acclaim; cartoonist and film director Riad Sattouf, who was raised in Syria and Libya and worked for Charlie Hebdo from 2004 to 2014; and Lebanese-born Nabil Wakim, a 2015 Nieman Fellow and director of editorial innovation at Le Monde

Building on its wildly successful first year which drew more than 1,000 people, Festival Albertine enlisted noted innovators to curate and moderate each discussion including National Book Award winner Judith Thurman (Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller), Performa founding director and curator RoseLee Goldberg, author Adam Gopnik (From Paris to the Moon), Ethiopian-American novelist Dinaw Mengestu (How to Read the Air), and the New Yorker’s art editor Françoise Mouly. (The initial schedule of events can be found below and online at albertine.com and frenchculture.org. Additional participants will be announced in the coming weeks.) 

“This year's Festival Albertine brings a diverse range of renowned young Francophone voices to New York, most for the first time, with the hope of spurring vigorous intellectual debate,” said Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy. “Whether reimagining Camus’s The Stranger from a post-colonial Arabic perspective, revealing the experience of a young child in Ghaddafi's Libya and Assad’s Syria, or exposing what it is like to live under violent extremist rule in Timbuktu, these writers and artists give us a glimpse of people carving out lives in a tumultuous world driven by conflict and vast differences of power." 

The festival will take place at Albertine, the only bookshop in New York devoted solely to books in French and English with more than 14,000 contemporary and classic books from 30 French-speaking countries. Located inside the historic Payne Whitney mansion on New York City’s Museum Mile, Albertine has been described as a “sumptuous, swaddled nest where book lovers can roost” by The New York Times and has been named the “Best French Bookshop” by New York Magazine. It is named after the omnipresent and unknowable female character in Marcel Proust’s classic In Search of Lost Time.

The program for Festival Albertine is:

•  Ethiopian-American novelist and writer Dinaw Mengestu (How to Read the Air) will host a discussion on literature, postcolonial heritage, and what it means to write in a language that is not your own. It will feature the novelist and journalist Kamel Daoud (The Meursault Investigation), who was profiled in the New York Times Magazine in May 2015 after his retelling of The Stranger was published in the U.S. and author and former president of PEN American Center, Francine Prose. (Thursday, November 5th, 7:30pm) 

•  Moderated by Françoise Mouly, art editor of the New Yorker and publisher of the award-winning Toon Books, this event will explore autobiographical graphic novels dealing with eccentric, even dysfunctional families, in an often humorous way. It will include bestselling cartoonist and filmmaker Riad Sattouf, a former contributor to Charlie Hebdo, and graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner (The Diary of a Teenage Girl). (Friday November 6th, 7 pm)

•  Time Magazine science writer Jeffrey Kluger will moderate a discussion on combatting climate change with three Columbia University professors: Patrick Bolton (Barbara and David Zalanick Professor of Business); Pierre Gentine (Department of Earth and Environmental Engineering); and Peter B. de Menocal (head of Columbia’s new Center for Climate and Life). As part of the discussion, high school students from the Lycée Français of New York and other local schools will debate pressing issues surrounding climate change a few weeks before the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21/CMP11). (Saturday, November 7th, 3pm)

•  National Book Award winner Judith Thurman (Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller) will moderate this debate on Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist legacy between Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author Margo Jefferson (Negroland), writer Katie Roiphe (The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism) and Réjane Sénac, a researcher and professor at the Centre for Political Research at Sciences Po. These three provocative women hope to answer the question: are women still a second sex? (Saturday, November 7th, 6:30pm)

•  RoseLee Goldberg, art historian, author, critic and founder of the renowned visual art performance organization Performa, will explore influences and legacy in dance with Yvonne Rainer, one of the most influential dancers and choreographers of the last 50 years, and French choreographer Jérôme Bel, renowned for his conceptual and humorous works exploring relations between choreography and popular culture. (Sunday, November 8th, 3pm) 

•  National Book Award winner Judith Thurman (Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller) will moderate this debate on Simone de Beauvoir’s feminist legacy between Pulitzer Prize-winning critic and author Margo Jefferson (Negroland), writer Katie Roiphe (The Morning After: Fear, Sex and Feminism), Réjane Sénac, a researcher and professor at the Centre for Political Research at Sciences Po, and Sandrine Treiner, head of French public radio station French Culture. These four provocative women hope to answer the question: are women still a second sex? (Saturday, November 7th, 6:30pm)

•  2015 Oscar nominee director Abderrahmane Sissako will talk about what it is to be a filmmaker in Africa today. His 2014 drama Timbuktu won 7 Césars and was a Palme d’Or competitor at Cannes as well as a François Chalais Prize winner. The talk will be curated by Michael Cramer, assistant professor of Film History at Sarah Lawrence College (Monday, November 9th, 7pm) 

All events will take place at Albertine at 972 Fifth Avenue. All events are free and open to the public. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis. 

The Festival Albertine is made possible with major support from The Recanati-Kaplan Foundation, Susannah Hunnewell, Air France, Institut français, The Carlyle and Meeschaert Group. Generous support is provided by Champagne Pommery.

About Albertine
Albertine is a reading room and bookshop that brings to life French-American intellectual exchange. A permanent venue for free events and debates, the space offers more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from over 30 French-speaking countries around the world in French and in translation. Visit www.albertine.com. Follow Albertine on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @albertinebooks

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
The Cultural Services of the French Embassy provides a platform for exchange and innovation between French and American artists, intellectuals, educators, students, the tech community, and the general public. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the US, the Cultural Services develops the cultural economy by focusing on six principal fields of action: the arts, literature, cinema, the digital sphere, French language and higher education. Visit www.frenchculture.org

Summary

What: Festival Albertine
When: November 5-9, 2015
Venue: Albertine Books at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Address: 972 Fifth Ave (between 78th and 79th streets)
Web: http://albertine.com/
Phone: (212) 650–0070

Contact

Jenny Chang, jenny@pkpr.com 
Patrick Kowalczyk, patrick@pkpr.com 
PKPR, 212.627.8098

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