2015 French Voices Awards

January 12, 2016 | By Book Department

We have the pleasure to announce the recipients of our 2015 French Voices Award, chosen by a 15-member committee from among many exceptional texts. The French Voices Award honors translators and American publishers for their work in the very best of contemporary French writing.

In 2015, a total of 13 books were selected, 4 fiction and 9 non-fiction. Some of these titles are looking for a publisher. Please contact us at bookoffice@frenchculture.org for more info.

Stay tuned as well as we will announce the Grand Prize on February 29 in a ceremony at the cultural services of the French Embassy!

A program of FACE Foundation and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, French Voices is grateful for the support of the Florence Gould Foundation and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

(You can also view the results for our 2015 Hemingway Grant here.)


Le crieur de nuit, by Nelly Alard, Gallimard, 2010.

Translated by Grace McQuillan. Seeking an American publisher. Contact Anne-Solange NOBLE at Gallimard : anne-solange.noble@gallimard.fr

Sophie returns home after the death of her tyrannical father to help prepare for his funeral. She relives her abusive childhood, coming to terms with what it means that he is gone and slowly regaining her taste for life, in a story that is also a true homage to Brittany.

Puissance de la douceur, by Anne Dufourmantelle, Payot & Rivages, 2013.

Translated by Katherine Payne; to be published by Fordham University Press in April 2016.

Puissance de la douceur explores how gentleness might constitute a form of power. Following up on her previous book Blind Date, a philosophical account of sex, Dufourmantelle here brings philosophy and psychoanalysis to bear on a question that remains marginalized, even as sex has entered our philosophical lexicons.

Puissance de la douceur invents the writing of gentleness—itself an elusive genre, much like the enigmatic and uncanny force it sets out to describe.”

– Elizabeth Rottenberg

Travesti, by David Dumortier, Le Dilettante, 2012

Translated by Ava Lehrer. Seeking an American publisher.

This semi-autobiographical book fearlessly recounts a man’s journey from his brutal childhood in Charente through his life as a writer and transvestite in Paris. The story moves boldly among three distinct voices: the sensitive child who endures a terrorizing father, the daytime writer narrating his visits to schools and his mentorship of children, and the promiscuous cross-dresser who plunges into the depths of intimate human experience. Through poetic flights and startling imagery, Dumortier explores a diverse set of challenging subjects—gender, homosexuality, education and the politics of immigration.

Réparateur de destin, by Cyrille Fleischman, Éditions Fayard, 2010.

Translated by Lynn E. Palermo and Catherine Zobal Dent. Seeking an American publisher.

In Destiny's Repairman, published the year of the author's death, Fleischman recreates the postwar Yiddish community in the Marais. Rooted in the small quartier known as the Pletzi with its concentration of Jewish inhabitants originally from Central Europe, this collection is a window to Yiddishkeit, the culture of the Ashkenazi Jews, as it was stitched into the fabric of mid-century Paris.

Traduire comme Transhumer, by Mireille Gansel, Calligrammes, 2012.

Translated by Ros Schwartz. Seeking an American publisher.

Traduire comme Transhumer is both memoir and a meditation on the art of translation by the eminent French translator from German and Vietnamese, known particularly for her translations of Nelly Sachs and the poets Reiner Kunze and Peter Huchel. The 26 short texts chart the author’s development as a translator and are thoughtful and exquisitely written.

Bain de lune, by Yanick Lahens, Sabine Wespieser Éditeur, 2014.

Translated by Emily Gogolak. Seeking an American publisher.

A girl from the village of Anse Bleue wakes up, washed up on the sand, the waves crashing against her back, wondering how she got there. In Bain de lune, winner of the 2014 Prix Femina, Lahens writes a family epic of violent beauty taking us back three generations into the lives of the Mésidors and the Lafleurs to answer that question. Passing from the first independent black republic, to the American occupation, to years of the Duvalier regime, the novel bravely and lyrically delves into a past of terror and turmoil, political and otherwise, of the two families and, ultimately, of Haiti.

Deleuze, les mouvements aberrants, by David Lapoujade, Éditions de Minuit, 2014.

Translated by Joshua David Jordan; to be published by Semiotext(e).

David Lapoujade provides an original and persuasive exploration of the central concern from which influential Deleuzian concepts in the domains of philosophy, literature, film, and art originate: aberrant movements. The latter’s “irrational logics” form the basis for Lapoujade’s illuminating and at times provocative claim for the constitutive role they play in Deleuze’s philosophical system. Through his rigorous but always accessible arguments, Lapoujade elucidates a thinker whose difficulty sometimes still remains prohibitive to all too many English-speaking readers, in the process confirming Michel Foucault’s intuition that “un jour, peut-être, le siècle sera deleuzien.”

Nous sommes tous des cannibales, by Claude Lévi-Strauss, Éditions du Seuil, 2013.

Translated by Jane Marie Todd; to be published by Columbia University Press in March 2016.

Lévi-Strauss begins this group of essays by looking at the strange customs and rituals "that unfold before our eyes and for which our own society is the theater." In each subsequent piece, he takes a current event as a starting point and engages contemporary debates such as “mad cow disease” and differing forms of cannibalism (alimentary and therapeutic) in order to point out that any practice, belief or custom—however bizarre, shocking, or revolting it may appear—can be explained only within its own context. Ultimately, he encourages an understanding of the social factors which underpin these practices.

Les Lumières de Pointe-Noire, by Alain Mabanckou, Éditions du Seuil, 2013.

Translated by Helen Stevenson; to be published by The New Press in March 2016.

Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989, at the age of twenty-two, only to return a quarter of a century later as a decorated writer and an esteemed professor at UCLA. As he delves into his childhood, into the life of his departed mother, and into the strange mix of belonging and absence that motivates his return to Congo, Mabanckou finds he can only look on as an outsider in the place where he grew up. Recalling the writing of V.S. Naipaul and André Aciman, his work offers a startlingly fresh perspective on the pain of exile, the ghosts of memory, and the paths we take back home.

Jean Renoir, by Pascal Mérigeau, Flammarion, 2012.

Translated by Bruce Benderson; to be published by Running Press in May 2016.

Jean Renoir is an exhaustive and penetrating critical biography of the French filmmaker whose work left an indelible mark not only on his native country but on the one he adopted later in life after he moved to Hollywood. This biography is a fresh approach to the maker of La Grande Illusion and The Rules of the Game. A significant amount of the material in these 1100+ pages is drawn from unpublished or little known sources.

Lettre à Zohra D., by Danielle Michel-Chich, Flammarion, 2012.

Translated by Lara Vergnaud. Seeking an American publisher.

Letter to Zohra D. is an open letter addressed to Zohra Drif, the FLN militant behind the 1956 Milk Bar bombing in Algiers. Danielle Michel-Chich witnessed the devastation of the attack firsthand: the then five-year-old lost her leg and her grandmother was killed. Unable to address Drif in person, she turns to the page to ask if the end justified the means. Far from offering a bitter assignation of blame, the author wishes instead to come to terms with her personal trauma, while appealing for humanity in wartime. Both intimate memoir and stark commentary about the continuing aftermath of the Algerian War of Independence, the book avoids any hint of victimization.

L'Autre Portrait, by Jean-Luc Nancy, Éditions Galilée, 2014.

Translated by Sarah Clift; to be published by Fordham University Press in October 2016.

In this short essay, Jean-Luc Nancy examines the genre of the portrait together with the philosophical question of subjectivity. The English edition will include a new preface and a foreword by Jeffrey Librett.

"This relatively short book … presents yet another exquisite and thought-provoking reflection on the part of an eminent philosopher whose thinking has turned increasingly toward visual art ... [L'Autre Portrait] attempt[s] to approach and articulate the paradoxes of 'the subject,' in a philosophical sense, and in this case in relation to its most direct manifestation as a pictorial figure."

- Jeff Fort

Roland Barthes: Biographie, by Tiphaine Samoyault, Éditions du Seuil, 2015.

Translated by Andrew Brown; to be published by Polity Press in January 2017.

Samoyault expertly outlines the evolution of this pivotal figure in 20th-century literary criticism, as an intellectual and an individual. Alongside a first class analysis of his major works and theoretical breakthroughs, there are also illuminating accounts of Barthes's early battles for academic recognition and struggles with tuberculosis. With access to unpublished material, including diaries and above all collections of the index cards on which he noted his reflections, Samoyault is able to provide a particularly novel perspective. Released in France for the centenary of Barthes’s birth, the biography has already gained significant recognition, being shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Goncourt.

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