French Books USA: Week In Review

November 13, 2014 | By FRENCH CULTURE BOOKS
Prix Femina winner Yanick Lahens

Literary Prize Roundup
After a series of selections that kept readers and critics guessing, the Académie Goncourt announced the winner of its prize last Wednesday—Lydie Salvayre, for her book Pas pleurer, a novel which blends the story of the Spanish Civil War with details from her mother’s life. This is Editor Seuil’s first Goncourt win since 1988.

On November 6, another Seuil author, Elisabeth Roudinesco, won the Prix Décembre for her essay Sigmund Freud en son temps et dans le notre. The prize honors a novel, short story or essay written in French within the last year. 

The Prix Médicis for a French novel was awarded to Antoine Volodine for his novel Terminus radieux on November 4. Volodine is also edited by Seuil, who have made an impressive sweep this year in literary awards. The Prix Médicis of the foreign novel went to Australian author Lily Brett for her novel Lola Bensky, while the Prix Médicis for the essay went to Frédéric Pajak for his piece Manifeste incertain 3.

Haitian writer Yanick Lahens won the Prix Femina for her novel Bain de lune. The winner is chosen by a jury of women from works written by both men and women. Read the first few pages of Bain de lune here. (Excerpt in French.)

The novel Charlotte by popular French writer David Foenkinos won the prix Renaudot. Meanwhile Eric Reinhardt, whose novel L'amour et les forêts was short-listed for the Prix Goncourt, won this year’s  prix Renaudot des lycéens, which is awarded by a jury of high school readers.

Finally, this year’s Prix de Flore—and accompanying 6100 euros and 365 glasses of Pouilly-fuissé—went to Aurélien Bellanger for his second novel, l'Aménagement du territoire. In the book, the construction of a high-speed rail line creates tension between the project’s developers and those who live near the construction site. Read the first few pages of the book here. (Excerpt in French.)

Amazon and Hachette Come to an Agreement
After a dispute that has lasted several months, Amazon and Hachette’s American subsidiary have come to an agreement. The major victory for Hachette is that it will maintain control over the pricing of all of its books. Although the agreement officially goes into effect in January, Amazon will go back to selling Hachette’s books immediately, and will feature Hachette titles during end-of-year sales promotions.

Out Now: English Translation of Modiano
Readers in the United States can now get their hands on a copy of Patrick Modiano’s Suspended Sentences. The work, which is translated from the French by Mark Polizzotti and published by Yale Press, was initially published as three separate novellas: Afterimage, Suspended Sentences, and Flowers of Ruin. In the collection, characters navigate their way through the shady worlds of crooks, ex-circus performers and gangsters.

Documenting the Lives of Writers
The recently released “Writers : Literary Lives in Focus” features over two hundred and fifty photographs of literary giants, taken by some of the twentieth century’s most renowned photographers. This sneak peek slideshow on The New Yorker’s website includes pictures of Colette and Simone de Beauvoir. (H/T Paris Review)


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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