French Books in the US - the 2017 edition
The Book Department of the French Embassy is pleased to publish the first version of the 2017 list of French books translated in the United States!
This list has been compiled with the help of French and American publishers and agents. The Book Department team does its best to be as accurate as possible; however, some titles may be missing and mistakes may remain. Don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you come across any errors or omissions.
We numbered 426 titles published in 2017, in fiction, non fiction, poetry, graphic novels and children’s books. It’s not quite as much as 2016’s record 531 - but more than the 360 we counted in 2015. We’re hoping to see that list grow as publishers keep sending information throughout the year. As always, French books do sell abroad.
In 2017, non fiction remains the strongest field on the market. 178 titles were counted – and continue the steady growth we have witnessed every year since 2013. An increase that we hope to see continue over the years! Philosophy titles rank the highest in demand, with previously unpublished titles by towering names being released, such as Alain Badiou, Jacques Rancière, Bruno Latour, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida or Roland Barthes. The sociology master Pierre Bourdieu is also well represented, with two titles published this year.
Last year, we highlighted that the work of scholars with new approaches to their field, many of them women, are entering the market; we’re happy to see that trend go on in 2017, with names such as Emmanuel Alloa (La résistance du sensible), Evelyne Grossman (L’angoisse de penser), Nathalie Depraz (Attention et vigilance), Françoise Dastur (Questioning Phenomenology), Frédéric Neyrat (Atopies: Manifeste pour la philosophie) or Anne Dufourmantelle (Puissance de la douceur). Achille Mbembe’s Critique of Black Reason proposes an iconoclastic reflection on racism; while Bernard Stiegler crafts a fundamental essay on labor in the XXst century with Automatic Society : The Future of Work.
As far as History is concerned, original and innovative takes to the discipline attract the attention of university presses, in the footsteps of groundbreaking historians Michel Pastoureau (Red: The History of a Color) or Jean-Pierre Vernant (De la résistance à la Grèce ancienne). Sensible Moyen Age by Piroska Nagy and Damien Boquet, focuses on the history of emotions in the middle ages; Anne Cheng on Chinese history; Nicolas Bancel on French postcolonial history; Georges Bensoussan on Jewish and Arab history are further examples of a renewal in the field. Jérusalem 1900, by Vincent Lemire, unveils, thanks to newly released documents, a unique moment in history. We’re also delighted to see two widely acclaimed biographies making it across the Atlantic: Levi-Strauss by Emmanuelle Loyer, and Roland Barthes by Tiphaine Samoyault.
The tragic events in 2015 and 2016 have triggered the need for analysis and understanding, as shown in the publications of Gilles Kepel’s Terreur dans l’hexagone, Gérôme Truc’s Sociology des attentats, Alain Bertho’s Les Enfants du Chaos or Farhad Kohsrokavar’s Radicalization.
In fiction, 118 books translated from the French are published in the United States in 2017. We have inventoried a few classics but contemporary novels seem to be the most represented category. American publishers keep daring to take risks by publishing a few novelists for the first time in the United States, such as Christine Angot (Incest, Seven Stories) or Edouard Louis (The End of Eddy, FSG). Both wrote highly successful novels based on their real life experiences. We hope their success in France travels abroad!
Other contemporary novelists already have several publications in the US, which shows that publishers are building on the growing reputation of the authors: Emmanuel Carrère’s lengthy novel based on the history of the first Christians, The Kingdom, Mathias Enard’s Goncourt-winning Compass, or Checkpoint by Jean-Christophe Rufin, are much awaited. Boundary-pushing writers who propose through their writing formal inventions are building their success throughout the years, such as Anne Garréta, Antoine Volodine or Camille Laurens. With previously published novels, Abdellah Taïa, Laurent Binet, Pierre Lemaitre, Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès or the Iconic Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau keep building a strong following with American readers.
We’re pleased to see Haitian author Yanick Lahens published for the first time as well, with Bain de Lune at Deep Vellum. Many francophone writers (French is the official language in 29 countries, and spoken in many others) are, in this manner, published in the US, such as the Lebanese Charif Majdalani, Algerian Boualem Sansal with a much noticed dystopian novel, 2084, or the French-Djiboutian author Abdourahman A. Waberi with no less than three novels announced for 2017.
With 78 graphic novels released this year (against 65 last year), we’re happy to see that the enthusiasm for French comics is stronger every year in the US, as the success of our fall French Comics Framed festival showed.
The Humanoids, a Paris and LA-based imprint, continue their conquest of the American market with 6 dystopian titles co-authored by legendary artist, scenarist and film director Alejandro Jodorowsky, along with and 9 other books. Non fiction comics, a very trendy subgenre, continue to be released, like the biographies Joséphine Baker by Catel, California dreaming on Cass Elliott by Pénélope Bagieu, Lennon by Eric Corbeyran, Gauguin by Fabrizio Dori, Billie Holiday by José Munoz, Magritte by Vincent Zabus. Comics at the intersection of autobiography and political investigation are also very appreciated by American publishers, for example Hostages by Guy Delisle, Poppies of Irak by Lewis Trondheim, Give Peace a chance by Marcelino Truong.
40 childrens books in translation this year have been counted. Inventive and witty pop up books showcase the creativity and the refined style of French illustrators. What’s up? By Olivia Cosneau, Can you keep a straight face by Elisa Géhin or Pyjamarama by Michael Leblond. Independent presses such as Le Rouergue, L’école des Loisirs, Courtes et Longues, Hélium or les Grandes personnes manage to sell translation rights to forward-thinking American publishers. Success stories such as Christine Roussey’s push publishers like Abrams Books to publish several titles in the same year: after In My heart and All my treasures in 2016, My Lazy cat and In my Room will be released this year. And we cheer Archipelago, who is opening up to children books in 2017, with the release of the wonderful illustrator Claude Ponti’s My Valley and Blaise et le château d'Anne Hiversère.
For accurate information about the rights sales of French books abroad in 2015, please refer to the report by the Bureau International de l’Edition Française (International Office of French Publishing) and the Syndicat de l’Edition française (French Publishing Syndicate).
Several authors mentioned on the list have visited or will soon be visiting the United States. Please check our Authors on tour presentation for more information on author events.
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