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Week in Review: September 23, 2019

by Jessica Erin Cohen 

 

A Unique, Continental Account of the Resistance

This September, Olivier Wieviorka, professor of history at the École Normale Supérieure and the winner of the 2018 Prix du livre d’histoire de l’Europe, published The Resistance in Western Europe, 1940-1945 (Columbia University Press, translation by Jane Marie Todd). Immediately praised by various specialists and researchers of Modern European History, it offers a sweeping analytical account of the underground anti-Nazi forces during World War II. Robert Paxton and Phillip Nord respectively celebrate the work as “richly informative” and recounting a complex struggle of “epic character.” Wieviorka will be presenting his thought-provoking and impressive book at Columbia’s Maison Française on October 7th, alongside panelists Robert Paxton and Mark Mazower. He will also be screening and discussing his immersive film, After Hitler: the Untold Story, on October 3rd.
 

Visceral, Bold, Violent, and Dirty: A Modern Classic?

Jean-Baptiste Del Amo just wrapped up his American tour, during which he presented Animalia (Grove Editions, translation by Frank Wynne), a dramatic and chilling tale of man and beast. Del Amo has earned a reputation as one of France’s most extraordinary and ambitious young writers and, thanks to Wynne’s triumphant translation, an Anglophone audience is able to enjoy his captivating work for the first time. Upon its release in the UK, the book was a literary sensation, attracting a large audience of readers and literary critics. Drawing upon the naturalism of Emile Zola, Del Amo retraces the history of a French peasant family over the twentieth century as they develop their small plot of land into an industrial pig farm. As the London Magazine expressed, Del Amo masterly combines repulsive, sensorial imagery with “poetry” that pulls the reader in. This powerful epic, celebrated by the Guardian and The Telegraph as a “modern classic” and a “magisterial story,” is truly a must read.

 

Who Made The First Cut For This Year’s Literary Prizes?

It is officially Rentrée Littéraire season, which makes it the perfect time to discover new French authors and books. This year, 336 new French books and 188 translations of foreign language books will hit the shelves in France by November. While this number may seem overwhelming, prestigious literary prizes and shortlists can help you find the must reads. The Académie française, whose members are the official moderators of the French language, have released their first shortlist for the 2019 Grand prix du Roman. Cécile Coulon’s Une Bête Au Paradis (L’Iconoclaste), which has already won Le Monde’s 2019 Prix Littéraire, is in the running for the Académie’s best novel of the year. The first selection of books for the Prix Goncourt and the Prix Renaudot have also been released. Le Ghetto intérieur by Santiago Amigorena (P.O.L) and Le Ciel par-dessus le toit by Nathacha Appanah (Gallimard) have the honor being featured on both lists. 

 

The Climate Moment: The 2019 Albertine Festival

As the recent wave of climate strikes has demonstrated, the environment is one of today’s most important and prevalent issues. This year’s Albertine Festival, called The Climate Moment, is curated by environmentalist and best-selling author Bill McKibben and will unite leading thinkers, politicians, activists, artists, and authors from November 8-10th at the Albertine Bookstore to discuss environmental justice, local policy, the food we eat, and more. In a recent article published by the New York Times, McKibben explains his motivations for collaborating with French and Francophone thinkers, including France’s effective soil laws and expertise gained from the Paris climate talks. The BWW News Desk similarly praised the “intimate” environment of the event and “Albertine Books’ commitment to intellectual exchange.” Speakers will include Naomi Klein, whose book On Fire was the #1 bestselling Canadian nonfiction book last week; Marie Toussaint, a Member of the European Parliament and jurist in international environmental law; award-winning author Lauren Groff; composer and multimedia artist DJ Spooky; playwright Irina Brook; and political scientist Romain Felli.

 

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