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French Books USA: Week In Review

Remembering Anne Dufourmantelle

The philosopher and psychoanalyst Anne Dufourmantelle passed away this July, in an accident as she was making a heroic effort to save children from drowning. A Brown University graduate, Anne Dufourmantelle had taught at NYU. She leaves an important body of work. In Éloge du risque, she offered a comment on Hölderlin’s quote: “but where the danger is, also grows the saving power”. Intelligence du rêve defended the importance of dreams and Défense du secret critiqued the dictatorship of transparency in postmodern society. She wrote De l’hospitalité, in collaboration with Jacques Derrida. Her essay Blind Date: Sex and Philosophy was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2007; Power of Gentleness: Meditations on the Risk of Living, winner of a French Voices award, is upcoming in 2018 by Fordham University Press. ”A great philosopher, she helped us live and understand the world”, commented Françoise Nyssen, the French Minister of Culture.

Moebius’ work acclaimed at San Diego’s Comic-Con 

Every year, the San Diego Comic-Con grants the Eisner awards, the Oscars of graphic novels. Mœbius Library: The World of Edena (Dark Horse Comics) by the legendary Mœbius won the prize for Best U.S. Edition of International Material. Published in 2016, the album was a New York Times comics best-seller in comics and was deemed “the coolest book of the year” by Publishers WeeklyBrigitte Findakly and Lewis Trondheim attended the fair and signed their new collaboration, Poppies of Iraq (Drawn and Quarterly). Trondheim posted a little reportage attesting that the festival was quite well attended.

Albert Camus' Final Love Letter

The last love letter of French philosopher, writer, and Nobel Prize winner Albert Camus draws interest from many fans. ”See you Tuesday” wrote Camus to his mistress, the actress Catherine Sellers, on December 31, 1959.  But the letter did not arrive to Sellers’ residence until January 4, 1960, the day following the writer’s deadly car accident. The document is now stored at the National Library of France per the request of Sellers herself following her passing in 2014, along with a voluminous correspondence between the two lovers.

Chabouté’s Alone, both Stunning and Thought Provoking

Christophe Chabouté’s Alone (Gallery 13) translated from the French by Ivanka Hahnenberger centers around the son of a lighthouse keeper who lives in solitude on the island. During his time on the island, fishermen bring him food as he attempts to imagine life off the island. “This small, graceful story becomes a lush fairy tale through Chabouté’s stunning black-and-white art,” wrote Publishers Weekly, “he lavishes loving detail on the hermit’s fantastic inner life and his daily routines on the starkly beautiful island”. Chabouté’s book is widely considered as a masterpiece in France and you do not have to be left alone in a lighthouse to enjoy it either!

The New French: reshaping contemporary French literature 

Words Without Borders is featuring new French literary work written by immigrants who have moved to France, “whether they come from former colonies or non-Francophone nations”. From Aziz Chouaki to Négar Djavadi, from Beata Umubyeyi Mairesse to Rachid O., Zahia Rahmani, and to Shumona Sinha, the writers explore their new country “from a dual perspective,” drawing influences from their new environment as well as from their past lives, and contribute to a “remapping of contemporary writing in French”, as Susan Harris writes.