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Week in Review: June 29, 2018

by Shannon Sullivan

TIME's Summer Reading List Revealed

A cool glass of lemonade, a floppy hat, and a good book-- sounds like the perfect summer scenario to us! If you’re in need of suggestions to complete this picture, you’re certainly in the right place. TIME recently released their list of the best summer books, and they’ve included author and musician Gaël Faye’s debut novel Small Country (Hogarth) as well as A Bite-Sized History of France: Gastronomic Tales of Revolution, War, and Enlightenment (The New Press). Winner of the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, Small Country tells of 10-year-old Gabriel’s idyllic world that is shattered when civil war touches his home in Burundi; Faye will be on tour in the United States this October. A Bite-Sized History of France, written by duo Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell, explores the impact of war, imperialism, and global trade on French cuisine. There will be a celebration of the book launch at Albertine on July 10 at 6pm. 

Literature as a Weapon

The New York Times published a profile on Albertine Prize 2018 shortlisted author Édouard Louis in the wake of the English publication of his History of Violence (Farrar, Straus and Giroux). On becoming a writer, Louis said that he “didn’t see the world of [his] childhood depicted anywhere"; the solution, then, was to write it himself. Following the international success of The End of Eddy, History of Violence is an autobiographical novel that recounts Louis’ trauma after being attacked and raped in his Paris apartment. Despite the heavy subject, the author sees writing about social violence as a way to create goodness in the world; he continues on this theme with his most recent publication, Qui a tué mon père ? (Seuil), which came out last month.

New Record Set for "La Grande Librairie"

“La Grande Librairie,” a television show that follows literary news and features four guest authors each week, finished its tenth season with a record average performance of more than 560,000 viewers for 2.3% of the market, marking its best season in ten years. The show, which aired live, was hosted by Albertine Prize co-chair François Busnel on May 31 on France 5, and managed to increase its viewership by 43% from last year. See our interview with Busnel, recorded for this year’s Albertine Prize ceremony, below.

 

Passing of Marcel Hénaff

Philosopher and anthropologist Marcel Hénaff passed away June 11 in San Diego, California. A former program director at the Collège international de philosophie, he taught at UC San Diego for thirty years. His research focused on reciprocity in human societies; his book The Price of Truth (Stanford University Press), winner of the 2002 Grand Prix Moron, explores the dynamic between truth and money, and the place that exchange has held in society through the ages. Hénaff was also a specialist in the work of Claude Lévi-Strauss, publishing a comprehensive analysis of the anthropologist’s research in 1991 that was later translated into English under the title Claude Levi-Strauss and the Making of Structural Anthropology (University of Minnesota Press), with a second Strauss-focused volume following in 2008.

Poe and Gracq: An Odd Couple

Edmund White reflected on the work of French author Julien Gracq in the latest issue of New York Review of Books, referencing Gracq's “wonderfully inventive” literary criticism. White stressed the lingering influence of Edgar Allen Poe on Gracq’s storytelling, and not just because “if [Gracq] had a...favorite place in which to situate his action… it would be the seashore enveloped in fog.” Gracq was the pen name of Louis Poirier, a history and geography teacher who rejected the Prix Goncourt for his work; White highlights the writer’s “wonderfully worked” descriptions and traces the evolution of his style through four of his best-known works, from 1938’s Château d’Argol (Steerforth Press) to his final novel, Balcony in the Forest (New York Review Books). Many of Gracq’s publications are available in English translation, including The Opposing Shore (Columbia University Press) and A Dark Stranger (Pushkin).

Haddad's "Sharp and Provocative" Novel

Publishers Weekly gave Hubert Haddad's Desirable Body a starred review, calling it "fabulously imagined" and "deeply intelligent." The book follows protagonist Cédric after a freak accident leaves him paralyzed from the neck down. He agrees to be the first patient of a full body transplant, but post-surgery, he must readjust to the world in his new body, discovering who he really is along the way. Translated from the French by Alyson Waters, Desirable Body will be out from Yale University Press in August; it is Haddad's third book to be published in the United States, following Palestine (Guernica) and Rochester Knockings (Open Letter). Haddad will be on tour in the United States from October 1-25. 

Passing of Stanley Cavell

On June 19, philosopher and Harvard professor Stanley Cavell passed away after suffering a heart attack. Dr. Cavell's work contributed to the philosophy of language in addition to ethics, aesthetics, and epistemology. His 1984 book Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (Harvard University Press) was a sensation in the philosophical world, as it applied the sometimes-rigid discipline to the world of film; it was translated into French and published under the name A la recherche du bonheur (Librairie Philosophique J. Vrin) in 2017. His 2010 memoir, Little Did I Know (Stanford University Press), was also translated into French (Editions du Cerf), and published in 2014. 

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