French Books USA: Week In Review

February 26, 2015 | By Maggie Love
The Bibliothèque nationale de France

The BnF Turns 20
The Bibliothèque nationale de France is celebrating its 20th birthday. L’Obs looks at its colorful history, including how the library’s garden, closed off to visitors, became overrun with rabbits. Meanwhile, the architect of the building (which is three times the size of the massive Centre Pompidou) defends his work against criticism.

Off to a Great Start
L’Express rounds up six new début novels for your reading enjoyment, including Andrea Salajova’s Eastern, the story of a dancer in his thirties who returns to his native Slovakian village for the first time in 10 years; and Fabien Clouetten’s Quelque rides, an account about a murderous hotel manager told from the perspective of his psychiatrist.

The Life of Barthes
Tiphaine Samoyault has recently published Roland Barthes, a “cerebral biography” of the essayist and social and literary critic, on the occasion of Barthes’ 100th anniversary. Rather than follow the chronological order of Barthes’ life, Samoyault divides the book into «Scènes,» «Structures» «Littérature» and «Evénements,» and explores his relationships with other major figures, such as Gide, Sartre, Sollers and Foucault.  

Race and Republicanism
In Without Race Distinctions ? A Critical Analysis of the Concept of Race and its Practical Effects, Magali Bessone presents a carefully constructed argument on the seemingly paradoxical issue of addressing racism at a time when biologists have rejected the notion that racial categories exist.  Books and Ideas raves: “On a topic that might seem rather overdone, Magali Bessone has written a remarkable book, one that sparkles with intelligence and culture.”

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