French Books USA: Week In Review

October 2, 2014 | By Maggie Love
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OIF Awards Francophone Literature Prize
The Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) has awarded its prestigious literary Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie (the Five Continents of the World Prize) to Algerian author Kamel Daoud for his novel Meursault, contre-enquête (Meursault, Second Inquiry), which takes up the narrative of Albert Camus’s L’Etranger  from the perspective of the brother of the man who is killed by Camus’s narrator.

Jean-Jacques Pauvert Has Died
Legendary editor Jean-Jacques Pauvert passed away September 27th. His decision to publish the erotic works of Marquis de Sade helped reverse censorship in France in the 1950s. He was 88 years old.

Industry News

Study Examines Academic Translation in the US, UK
A study on the translation of French academic texts shows that in the United States and the United Kingdom the industry is concentrated at certain publishing houses. The study, sponsord by the Institut Français and conducted by the Centre européen de sociologie et de science politique (CESSP) under the direction of Gisèle Sapiro, also indicated that the most popular subject being translated is philosophy, and across the board, books written by women are translated much less often than books written by men.

Closing the Gender Gap in Translated Books
At International Translation Day, which was held in London last week, translators discussed the gender disparity in translated books and suggested creating a prize honoring women writers.

Karl Ove Knausgaard
Karl Ove Knausgaard’s autobiography My Struggle is gaining a growing readership among English speakers. The 3000-plus-page work, which is often plotless, has been described as « mystifying, magnetic and hypnotizing, even when it is boring. » In this interview, Knausgaard discusses how much he hated writing the book, his reaction to his overnight fame, and what his book title has to do with “Mein Kampf.”

The Non-Fiction Novel
A recurring theme among the books of the French “rentrée littéraire” is the "non-fiction novel." Critics describe the genre as a narrative that combines historical fact and the writer's personal experience. Take Éric Vuillard's Tristesse de la terre, an account of the massacres of Native Americans and Buffalo Bill's Wild West show which was inspired by the author's strong reaction to a photograph. La République des livres' Pierre Assouline cites Lydie Salvayre's Pas pleurer and Patrick Deville's Viva as other examples of this growing movement.

The Joker Was Inspired By a Victor Hugo Character
The Joker from Batman tells many different stories about how he got his scars. But did you know the idea for the character came from a poster for the film adaptation of Victor Hugo’s novel The Man Who Laughs?

Gossip, 18th Century Style
The public’s obsession with scandals involving public figures can be traced back to before there was YouTube or paparazzi, writes author Antoine Lilti in his book Figures publiques. L'invention de la célébrité, 1750-1850.

Keep up with the latest news on the French literary scene in France and the U.S. with the French Book Department’s weekly paper trail. For daily updates on events, blogs and translations, follow us on Twitter @FrenchBooksUSA.

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