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Week in Review: September 7, 2018

by Shannon Sullivan

Coming Soon

Time to pull out your calendar-- a new month means new literary events to look out for! Our first author tours begin this month, with Jérémie Royer’s running from September 13-27, and Léonora Miano’s from September 16-29; as part of her tour, Miano will be at Albertine on September 18. Royer will be presenting his beautifully illustrated Audubon: On the Wings of the World (Nobrow Press, translated by David Sutton), which captures the spirit of early America through the eyes of explorer and ornithologist John James Audubon, and Miano’s Prix Femina-winning Season of the Shadow (Seagull Books, translated by Gila Walker) recounts the early days of the transatlantic slave trade from the perspective of its first victims, the sub-Saharan population. Translationista has compiled a lineup of literature in translation events, one of which is the annual New York University/Nida School of Translation Studies Translation Conference. Featured speakers include translator and linguist Hélène Buzelin, who specializes in translating Caribbean literature, and writer/French-to-English translator Jesse Browner, who has translated books from Jean Cocteau, Matthieu Ricard, and Frédéric Mitterrand.

Rentrée Littéraire 2018

You know what September means—and even if you don’t, you’re about to find out. It’s a new publishing season! 567 new novels are expected to be published this season, 381 of which are French. What’s even more exciting is that almost one-sixth of these publications will be the authors’ first novels, marking this as the season with the most debuts in more than a decade. Keep your eyes peeled for works from Alain Mabanckou, Maylis de Kérangal, Jérôme Ferrari, Serge Joncour, Agnès Desarthe, Amélie Nothomb, Chistophe Boltanski, and Christophe Donner, among many more. Happy new season!

Maryse Condé Shortlisted for Alternative Nobel Prize

That’s right, awards season isn’t over yet… the New Academy announced the shortlist for their alternative Nobel Prize in Literature; the four shortlisted authors, Haruka Murakami (Japan), Kim Thúy (Canada), Maryse Condé (France), and Neil Gaiman (United Kingdom), were selected from forty-seven nominees and voted on from people all over the world. Guadeloupe-born Condé wrote her first novel at age 11, and her book I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem (University of Virginia Press, translated by Richard Philcox) won the Prix Littéraire de la Femme. In other awards news, the Best Translated Book Award juries are now accepting submissions for the 2019 awards, with a deadline of December 31.

What to Read Next?

If you’re looking for an interesting new read, look no further! The New York Times made a list of recently published books on French culture, including Éric Hazan’s A Walk through Paris (Verso, translated by David Fernbach). Another highlighted book, Stéphane Hénaut and Jeni Mitchell’s A Bite-Sized History of France (the New Press), celebrated its launch at Albertine in July-- check out a message from Hénaut here. If fiction is more of your style, we’ve got you covered: Complete Review reviewed Frédéric Dard’s The Gravediggers’ Bread (Steerforth Press, translated by Frank Wynne), noting that “the novel and its surprising twists work very well.”  

Remembering Simone Weil

Robert Zaretsky reflected on the life and philosophy of Simone Weil for the Los Angeles Review of Books on the seventy-fifth anniversary of her death. Known as “one of the foremost modern philosophers,” Weil believed that reality was “rooted in the world of manual labor”; she sensed that truth of experience was lacking from her colleagues’ theories on the alienation of workers, and thus spent time moving through different manual labor jobs, notably a stint as a factory worker, in order to better understand the plight of the worker. Several of Weil’s texts have been translated into English and published in the United States, among them her well-known The Need for Roots (Taylor & Francis) and Waiting for God (Harper Perennial).