Second Annual French Voices Awards Ceremony

January 14, 2015 | By French Culture

New York, January 14, 2015 - On January 21, 2015, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and the FACE Foundation will hold the French Voices Awards ceremony to reflect their commitment to translation and independent publishing.

The French Voices Awards honor translators and American publishers working to produce the best contemporary French writing. Since its inception in 2006, the French Voices program has strived to expand the selection of translated French fiction and non-fiction books and prove that high-quality works and successful sales are not mutually exclusive.

This year again, 10 titles were chosen by a committee of independent professional experts to receive the French Voices Awards. Among them, three titles have already been short-listed for the French Voices Grand Prize that will be awarded on January 21: La Nostalgie by Barbara Cassin, Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre and Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila.

The laureate of the French Voices Grand Prize receives $10,000 and will be offered a book tour across the US organized by the French Cultural Services when his/her book is published in English. The other selected titles will receive grants of $6,000.

Celebrated American writer and honorary chair of the French Voices 2014 ceremony Rick Moody declared: "It is well known these days that only a tiny fraction of the books published by American publishers, in any given calendar year, are works in translation. In the last decade or so there has been a flowering of attempts to correct this dismal situation. And among these welcome developments is the excellent and admirable French Voices prize, from the French Cultural Services and the PEN American Center, which for eight years now has helped to develop, for English-speaking audiences, publications of French contemporary literature and its great French translators. The French Voices Award serves splendidly to highlight important works of contemporary French writing."

“French is the most translated language in the United States and the second most translated language in the world after English. Between 2013 and 2014, the percentage of French titles available in translation rose by 20% and it seems that the upward trend is likely to continue in 2015, with 244 titles already slated to be published. This is truly encouraging. There are so many promising French titles in fiction and non-fiction that just need a bit of help getting into the hands of publishers. The French Voices prize was created for this reason: to shed light on these texts and to provide a platform for translation. The Embassy is proud to support this cause and the brilliant 2014 laureates”, said Antonin Baudry, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy.

Created in 2006 by the French Cultural Services and PEN American Center to support translations from French to English and to encourage the publication of French titles in the U.S., the program is supported by the Florence Gould Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

About the French Voices Program: 9 years, 92 outstanding titles
Since 2006, French Voices has supported the translation and publication of 92 French titles. Several French Voices grantees have become best-sellers, such as Muriel Barbery’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog (2008), which sold over 900,000 copies, André Comte-Sponville’s The Little Book of Atheist Spirituality (2008), and Pierre Bayard’s How to Talk about Books You Haven’t Read (2009). The full list 2006-2013 is available at: http://face-foundation.org/french-voices/documents/FrenchVoicesCatalogue2006-2013.pdf

All of the French Voices awarded titles will be available at Albertine Books in French and English, the new reading room and bookshop in New York. Albertine is a project of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.


2014 Selected Titles

Among the following titles, 3 have been short-listed for the French Voices Grand Prize, which will be announced on January 21: La Nostalgie by Barbara Cassin, Guys Like Me by Dominique Fabre and Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila.

Michèle Audin - [CENT VINGT ET UN JOURS]
Translator: Christiana Hills, seeking an American publisher
(Cent vingt et un jours, Gallimard, 2014)
The debut novel of mathematician, author, and Oulipo* member Michèle Audin, Cent vingt et un jours, retraces the lives of French mathematicians over several generations, during World Wars I and II. In keeping with the spirit and aesthetics of the Oulipo, the narrative oscillates stylistically from chapter to chapter, at times resembling a novel, at others resembling a fable, historical research, or a diary, resulting in a book that is at once captivating and original.
*Oulipo: short for "Ouvroir de littérature potentielle", roughly translates into English as “Workshop of potential literature.”
“[Michèle Audin] plays with codes, numbers and dates to create a fascinating and unsettling story.” – Le Temps

Barbara Cassin - [LA NOSTALGIE]                 
Translator: Pascale-Anne Brault, Fordham University Press, 2016
(La Nostalgie, Editions Autrement, 2013)
Through a clever and subtle re-reading of the writings of Homer, Virgil, and Hannah Arendt, the philosopher and philologist Barbara Cassin produces an in-depth analysis, at once scholarly and personal, of nostalgia. Where does nostalgia come from? Where do we truly feel at home? Cassin explores the notion that nostalgia has less to do with place than with language.
“[La Nostalgie is] an erudite work in which [Cassin] incites us to make good use of this ambiguous, delightful and sometimes dangerous feeling.” – L’Express

Dominique Fabre - GUYS LIKE ME
Translator: Howard Curtis, New Vessel Press, February 2015
(Les types comme moi, Fayard, 2007)
Les Types comme moi exposes the shadowy, anonymous lives of many who inhabit the French capital through the eyes of a middle-aged office worker, divorced and separated from his only son. In this quiet, subdued tale, Fabre's narrator meets up with one of his childhood friends who is similarly adrift, without passions or prospects. The narrator is looking for a second act to his mournful life, seeking the harbor of love and a true connection with his son. A stirring novel of regret and absence, yet not without a glimmer of hope.
"Fabre speaks to us of luck and misfortune, of the accidents that make a man or defeat him. He talks about our ordinary disappointments and our small moments of calm. Fabre is the discreet megaphone of the man in the crowd."—Elle

André Gaudréault and Philippe Marion - THE END OF CINEMA?
Columbia University Press, April 2015
(La Fin du cinéma ?, Armand Colin, 2013)
Gaudréault and Colin, specialists in the field of cinematography and media, trace developments in digital technology and their impact on film. Rejecting the notion of the “death of cinema,” the authors suggest that now is the time for the rebirth of the “Seventh Art.”
La fin du cinema ? Un média en crise à l'ère du numérique, is written by two authors of irrefutable skill who are examining a fascinating topic.” – Cinéfilic

Julia Kristeva - TERESA, MY LOVE: AN IMAGINED LIFE OF THE SAINT OF AVILA
Translator: Lorna Scott Fox, Columbia University Press, 2014
(Thérèse, mon amour, Fayard 2008)
Mixing fiction, history, psychoanalysis, and personal fantasy, Teresa, My Love follows Sylvia Leclercq, a French psychoanalyst, academic, and incurable insomniac, as she falls for the sixteenth-century Saint Teresa of Avila and becomes consumed with charting her life. Traveling to Spain, Leclercq, Kristeva's probing alterego, visits the sites and embodiments of the famous mystic and awakens to her own desire for faith, connection, and rebellion.
“Ms. Kristeva’s affection for her subject finds effortless expression in a vibrant and persuasive imagining of Teresa as she might have sounded off the page.” -  New York Times

Andreï Makine - A WOMAN LOVED
Translator: Geoffrey Strachan, Graywolf Press, August 2015
(Une femme aimée, Seuil, 2013)
The book’s main character is a documentary filmmaker whose mission is to solve the various mysteries surrounding Catherine the Great. Makine dwells on the fascinating and sulfurous destiny of the historical figure who captivated her contemporaries, from Voltaire to Casanova, as much as she captivates historians today. Makine, who has already been translated in more than forty languages, is a master in the art of depicting deeply humane and moving characters.
“A small marvel of extensive knowledge and melancholy… A beautiful critique of contemporary Russia.”Le Figaro Magazine

Jean-Luc Marion - [LA RIGUEUR DES CHOSES]
Translator: Christina M. Gschwandtner, Fordham University Press, October 2015
(La Rigueur des choses, Flammarion, 2012)
La Rigueur des choses is a collection of interviews between Dan Arbib and the philosopher Jean-Luc Marion, a leading French Catholicism scholar. The book presents the key concepts of Marion’s philosophy, as well as those of the great thinkers who influenced him, such as Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas.
“This beautiful dialogue, led by student-come-philosopher Dan Arbib, affords readers a new opportunity to acquaint themselves with a brilliant mind.” – La Croix

Fiston Mwanza Mujila - TRAM 83
Translator: Roland Glasser, Deep Vellum Publishing, September 2015
(Tram 83, Editions Métailié, 2014)
Congolese writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s first novel, Tram 83, is a gripping story that unfolds in the heart of a crowd gathered at a train station in the capital of a fictitious African country. Tram 83, whose story is well showcased by a fantastic translation, is delightfully funny and energetic.
“A debut novel with a vertiginous rhythm. Picaresque poetry turned into music by a mix of slam and a series of loops and turns as bewitching as a sustained jazz melody.” – Livres Hebdo

Peter Szendy - APOCALYPSE-CINEMA: 2012 AND OTHER ENDS OF THE WORLD
Translator: Will Bishop, Fordham University Press, August 2015
(L’Apocalypse cinéma, Capricci Editions, 2012)
At once scholarly and impassioned, L’Apocalype cinéma delves into a major film theme: the Apocalypse. Incorporating research from the fields of film and philosophy, including the work of Spielberg and of Heidegger, among others, Peter Szendy delivers a unique, in-depth analysis of this genre.
“In this prodigiously intelligent book, Peter Szendy reflects on the specific nature of apocalyptic cinema. Organized as a series of brief essays on individual films and recurrent cinematic strategies, Apocalypse-Cinema offers brilliant insights on a genre that has yet to receive all the critical attention it deserves.” —Marie-Helene Huet, Princeton University

Chantal Thomas - THE EXCHANGE OF PRINCESSES
Translator: John Cullen, Other Press, July 2015
(L’Echange des princesses, Seuil, 2013)
In her most recent historical novel, The Exchange of Princesses, Chantal Thomas deftly narrates the incredible, true story of two arranged weddings: one between 11-year-old Louis XV and the 7-year-old Marie-Anne Victoire of Spain; and the other between the Regent of France Philippe d’Orléans’s daughter, Louise-Elisabeth de Montpensier, and the future heir to the Spanish throne. This in-depth work is a fascinating account of exploitation and power.
“The magic of the book lies in the extravagance of the period, which the writer masters with a precise, ironic style.” – Télérama
 


Members of Selection Committee, 2014

Esther Allen, Translator at Baruch College
Olivier Brossard, Poet, Associate professor and translator, University Paris Est
William Cloonan, Professor of Modern Languages, Florida State University
Peter Consenstein, Professor of French, CUNY, Graduate Center
Roger Celestin, Co-Chair of French and Francophone Studies programs, University of Connecticut
Linda Coverdale, Translator
Vincent Debaene, Associate Professor of French, Columbia University
Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Professor of French and Philosophy, Columbia University
Emmanuelle Ertel, Assistant professor and translator, New York University
Edward Gauvin, Translator
Samir Haddad, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University
Violaine Huisman, Humanities Manager, BAM.
Stéphane Gerson, Associate professor of French, New York University
Dan Simon, Publisher, Seven Stories Press
Jordan Stump, Professor and translator, University of Nebraska
Laurence Marie, Cultural Attaché, Head of the Book Department at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy (advisory role, no voting capacities)

ABOUT
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. www.frenchculture.org

FACE Foundation (French American Cultural Exchange) supports and promotes artistic, literary and educational projects in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French embassy.  With the participation of individual, corporate, and foundation funds as well as funding from the French government, FACE administers grant programs and projects in the performing and visual arts, cinema, publication and translation, secondary and higher education and provides financial sponsorship to French-American cultural initiatives to develop relationships between professionals in creative fields and encourage collaboration on educational and research programs. www.face-foundation.org

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Media Contact: Emilie Cabouat-Peyrache – + 1 (212) 439-1417 - emilie.cabouat@diplomatie.gouv.fr
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