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Week in Review

By Jasmine Bissete

Announcing the 2018 PEN World Voices Festival

The 2018 PEN World Voices Festival will bring together writers, artists, and thinkers from the United States and abroad. The theme of this year’s festival is “Resist and Reimagine.” Curator Chip Rolley explains, “We are deliberately training the Festival’s wide lens on America itself, probing the fissures and inconsistencies in our own culture, alongside those of writers visiting from overseas. We will examine different kinds of resistance…and tap into the imagination that is at the core of the best fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.” The festival will be held from April 16-22. Participants include Francophone speakers Leïla Slimani, Négar Djavadi, Pénélope Bagieu, Edouard Elvis Bvouma, and Aristide TarnagdaLeïla Slimani (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco) and Négar Djavadi (New York, Boston) will be on tour in the US in April.

Yvan Alagbé in The Paris Review

Yvan Alagbé’s short story “Dyaa” was featured in The Paris Review. Alagbé was born in Paris and has been a key figure in the avant-garde comics scene since the early 1990s, when he founded a contemporary visual arts review called L’oeil carnivore and the magazine Le Chéval sans tête with Olivier Marboeuf. His graphic novel Yellow Negroes will be published by New York Review Comics this April. Originally published in 1994 as Nègres Jaunes et autres créatures imaginaires, the work has been translated into English by Donald Nicholson-Smith. Yellow Negroes “tells the story of the romance between Claire, a white Frenchwoman, and Alain, a Beninese immigrant in the country illegally. Alain lives with his sister Martine, who makes a living doing housework for well-to-do families.” "Dyaa", first released in 1997, explores “Martine’s tragic romantic involvement with another immigrant.” Alagbé will be on tour in the US in from April 4-14 (New York, Princeton, Atlanta). He is set to appear in New York at the MoCCA Arts Festival, Strand Bookstore, and Desert Island Comics.

William Marx and The Hatred of Literature

William Marx’s The Hatred of Literature, published by Harvard University Press in January, examines the evolving idea of literature as seen through the eyes of its adversaries:  philosophers, theologians, scientists, pedagogues, and even leaders of modern liberal democracies. Literature does not start with Homer or Gilgamesh, William Marx says, but with Plato driving the poets out of the city, like God casting Adam and Eve out of Paradise. The Hatred of Literature was reviewed by Bart Everson for The Baffler, who summarized Marx’s thesis as “Literature is not literature until someone hates it on principle.” An excerpt of the work was published by Lithub. Marx will appear at the Columbia Maison Française on March 19th and the NYU Maison Française on March 20th.

Bagieu Talks Brazen

Pénélope Bagieu discussed her graphic novel Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World, which has just been released by First Second Books, in an interview with Comics Beat. Brazen traces the lives of thirty female role models, some world famous, some little known, who are all connected by an indomitable spirit. The novel was originally conceived as a weekly comic for Le Monde before being published by Gallimard as a two-part series entitled Les culottées : Des femmes qui ne font que ce qu’elles veulent. Brazen’s release was celebrated with a launch party at Albertine Books on March 6. In a review for The Guardian, Rachel Cooke crowns Brazen “a modern classic” and proclaims Pénélope Bagieu “a genius…her great gift is that she can turn paper into flesh.” Brazen has now been translated into 11 languages, and counting. Bagieu is currently on tour (New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta) and will appear at the PEN World Voices Festival on April 21st.

Vote for the Albertine Prize!

The Albertine Prize is a $10,000 Reader’s Choice award for a French novel published in English in the United States, co-presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Van Cleef & Arpels. This year’s shortlisted titles are Incest (Written by Christine Angot, translated by Tess Lewis), Compass (Written by Mathias Énard, translated by Charlotte Mandell), Not One Day (Written by Anne Garréta, translated by Emma Ramadan), The End of Eddy (Written by Édouard Louis, translated by Michael Lucey), and Black Moses (Written by Alain Mabanckou, translated by Helen Stevenson). Voting is open to the public until May 1.  Be sure to attend the next Albertine Book Club event, a discussion of Christine Angot’s Incest, on March 27th, as well as the Book Battle on April 12th and Awards Ceremony on June 6th.