French Fiction Fridays #7

August 23, 2013 | By Book Department

This week, allow our French Fiction Fridays excerpts to help you find love in sport and war. The novel Muscle and Flesh by Patrick-Olivier Meyer introduces us to a young Polish athlete and allows us to follow his initiation into the sports of the pole vault and the French kiss. Poet Hoai Huong Nguyen’s first novel Soft Shadows is the story of a French soldier and a Vietnamese volunteer who meet in a hospital. Brought together and separated by the same war, the couple long for each other across a terrain rendered ever more menacing by the ravages of battle.

We hope you savor the tension and beauty in these exciting new novels and are inspired to check them out in French. Please check back with us next week for two more fascinating French novel excerpts.

Muscle and Flesh
by Patrick-Olivier Meyer

Synopsis: As he looks forward to becoming a father himself, Ewad Kubicz, a thirty-one-year-old Parisian photographer, learns of the death of his own father, from whom he has been estranged
for fifteen years.
Kazimierz Kubicz, former pole-vaulting champion, had many times reinvented himself, moving from his native Poland to the United States, without ever settling anywhere: a national hero later seen as a traitor to his country, an unfaithful husband, a disloyal father, a capricious seducer, and a man who remained an enigma to his son.
When Kazimierz’s death is announced, his son refuses to believe it. It opens up old wounds
and drives Ewad to go in search of him and to look up the women in his father’s life. The search for the father becomes a personal quest: how far can one forgive those loved ones who
have betrayed you?

Read excerpt (English)
Read excerpt (French)

Soft Shadows
by Hoai Huong Nguyen

Synopsis: 1954, the Indochina War, and the Viet Minh relentlessly attack the French troops.
Mai, a young Annamese volunteer, is working at the Lanessan hospital in Hanoi where the wounded French soldiers are taken. Yann, a young Breton soldier, has been injured in the chest. Mai falls in love with him and shows astonishing inventiveness in finding ways to prevent Yann from being sent back to the front, even lying to the doctor about his medical condition. Yann becomes aware of her energetic efforts to delay his departure and falls in love with her. Their precarious happiness is soon disrupted. Mai’s father, an influential judge, has other ideas for his daughter’s future and plans to marry her off against her will. Her obstinate refusal estranges her from her family. She believes she will now be free to follow her heart. Anxious to make the most of every moment together, the two lovers marry in haste, the day before Yann is sent back to Dien Bien Phu. Now it is the war that keeps the couple apart.
To save Yann and rescue him from this limbo, Mai is prepared to put herself through hell.

Read excerpt (English)
Read excerpt (French)