30 Best French Books in Translation for the Summer

June 29, 2015 | By FRENCH CULTURE BOOKS

30 books, one every other day for the months of July and August: that seems like a reasonable goal for a bookworm’s happy vacation, doesn’t it?

But if you anticipate that you won’t have time to read all of these books, please feel free to shop around and take your pick from our list of this year’s best summer reads (all the titles below have been published in the US in 2015).

And if you are still thirsty for more books, have a look at our more extensive list of recently published and forthcoming translations in 2015. Enjoy!

FICTION

The most reviewed French novel in 2015
The Meursault Investigation, by Kamel Daoud, transl. John Cullen (Other Press, June 2015)

The most offbeat female French writer of the moment
Apocalypse Baby, by Virginie Despentes, transl. Sian Reynolds (The Feminist Press at CUNY, March 2015)

An enigmatic first novel (by one of Oulipo’s few female members)
Sphinx, by Anne Garréta, transl. Emma Ramadan (Deep Vellum Publishing, April 2015)

A nasty tale from the author whose work inspires the hero of Houellebecq’s Submission
A Dilemma, by Joris-Karl Huysmans, transl. Justin Vicari (Wakefield Press, Febr. 2015)

A gripping story of heroism and fidelity in the aftermath of World War I
The Red Collar, by Jean-Christophe Rufin, transl. Adriana Hunter (Europa Editions, July 2015)  

A series from the quintessential Belgian detective novelist
The Mahé Circle, by Georges Simenon, transl. by Sian Reynolds; Inspector Maigret Omnibus, three stories respectively transl. by David Bellos, Linda Coverdale and David Coward; The Madman of Bergerac, transl. Ros Schwartz (Penguin Books, May-July 2015)

The enthralling story of an opponent to Jean-Claude Duvalier’s dictatorship in Haiti
Savage Seasons, by Kettly Mars, transl. Jeanine Herman (University of Nebraska Press, July 2015)

A spellbinding historical tale about the cruel lives of two 18th century little princesses
The Exchange of Princesses, by Chantal Thomas, transl. John Cullen (Other Press, July 2015 – French Voices laureate)

The most madcap title of the year
The Extraordinary Journey of the Fakir who got trapped in an Ikea Wardrobe, by Romain Puertolas, transl. Sam Taylor (Knopf, Jan. 2015)

An insightful look at the long-lasting effects of the Algerian war on its veterans
The Wound, by Laurent Mauvignier, transl. Nicole and David Ball (University of Nebraska Press, Febr. 2015)

A censored novel by a contemporary of Simone de Beauvoir, who was revered by Jean Genet, Albert Camus and Nathalie Sarraute
Thérèse and Isabelle, by Violette Leduc, transl. Sophie Lewis (The Feminist Press at CUNY, June 2015)

The latest great novel of a living classic
The Festival of Insignificance, by Milan Kundera, transl. Linda Asher (Harper Collins, June 2015)


NON FICTION

A politically engaged history of American free jazz in France
Free Jazz Black Power, by Philippe Carle and Jean-Louis Comolli, transl. Gregory Pierrot (University Press of Mississipi, Jan. 2015)

The most useful philosophical work: it might very well bring you happiness
Happiness: A Philosopher’s Guide, by Frédéric Lenoir, transl. Andrew Brown (Melville House, April 2015)

The best work to question your moral predisposition
Human Kindness and the Smell of Warm Croissants, by Ruwen Ogien, transl. Martin Thom (Columbia University Press, May 2015)

A major essay by a pioneer of the feminist movement
There are Two Sexes, by Antoinette Fouque, transl. David Macey and Catherine Porter (Columbia University Press, Feb. 2015)

French theorists reflect on Human-Animal relationship
French Thinking About Animals, ed. Louisa Mackenzie and Stephanie Posthumus (Michigan State University Press, Apr. 2015)

A profound memoir of an autistic child who became an actor and a director
The Emperor, c’est moi, by Hugo Horiot, transl. Linda Coverdale (Seven Stories Press, April 2015)

The coolest book on mathematics, by a young Fields Medal laureate
Birth of a Theorem: a Mathematical Adventure, by Cédric Villani, transl. Malcolm DeBevoise (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, April 2015)

The latest work of the man whose Happiness TED-talk was viewed more than 5 million times
Altruism, by Matthieu Ricard, transl. Charlotte Mandel and Sam Gordon (Little, Brown and Company, June 2015)

An intimate reflection on the colonizer and the colonized
Arabic as a Secret Song, by Leila Sebbar, transl. Skyler Artes (University of Virginia Press, June 2015)

The most insurrectionist pamphlet on reconstruction after revolution
First Measures of the Coming Insurrection, by Eric Hazan and Kamo, transl. Patrick Camiller (Zed Books, May 2015)

The best work to imagine a future beyond our present anxieties
The Future, by Marc Augé, transl. John Howe (Verso, Feb. 2015)

The most delightful work on the possibility of science-fiction
Science Fiction and Extro-Science Fiction, by Quentin Meillassoux, transl. Alyosha Edlebi
(Univocal, Apr. 2015)

COMICS

An imaginative tale of conspiracies and the occult
Incidents of the Night 2, by David B, transl. Brian Evenson (Uncivilized Books, May 2015)

The award-winning graphic novel biography of Picasso
Pablo, by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie, transl. Edward Gauvin (SelfMadeHero, May 2015)

The most fashionable graphic novel
Girl in Dior, by Annie Goetzinger, transl. Joe Jonson (NBM Publishing, Feb 2015)

KIDS

The most tender picture book to read before going to bed
Edmond, The Moonlit Party, by Astrid Desbordes and Marc Boutavant, transl. Claudia Zoe Bedrick (Enchanted Lion Books, June 2015)

The most “haute” dog perspective on New York City
Americanine, A Haute Dog in New York, by Yann Kebbi, transl. Sarah Klinger (Enchanted Lion Books, June 2015)

The most handsomely illustrated introduction to a classical hero
Orpheus in the Underwold, by Yvan Pommaux, transl. Richard Kutner (Toon Books, June 2015)

A thought-provoking picture book about the power of unlikely friendships
Farewell Floppy by Benjamin Chaud, transl. by Norman Taylor (Chronicle Books, Mars 2015)

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