French Books USA: Week in Review

March 27, 2015 | By Kyra Sturgill
Maryse Condé and Alain Mabanckou

Man Booker International Prize Finalists
Finalists for the 2015 Man Booker International prize were announced this week and they include two Francophone authors: Maryse Condé and Alain Mabanckou. Condé has won a number of literary awards for her books, which explore issues within the African Diaspora and often engage what she refers to as “cultural cannibalism,” retelling stories from the pages of history and classic novels with Creole characters and from different points of view. Mabanckou has published six novels including, Broken Glass, Memoirs of a Porcupine, and African Psycho. He has been awarded the Prix Renaudot (one of the highest distinctions in French literature), the Sub-Saharan Africa Literary Prize, and the Prize of the Five Francophone Continents. His most recent work is Letter to Jimmy, a touching ode to the writer James Baldwin, was published in English in December. He will be in New York to take part in the PEN World Voices Festival this May. 

‘The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq’ at Film Forum
The Kidnapping of Michel Houellebecq, a film by Guillaume Nicloux, opened at Film Forum this week. Film Forum will host a special screening this Saturday which will be introduced by Tom Roberge, Deputy Director of Albertine Books in French and English. The film presents a scenario in which famed writer and provocateur Michel Houellebecq (who is played by himself) is abducted and follows the absurdities that ensue. The film plays on the growing hysteria surrounding the author whose controversial books have touched on subjects such as sex tourism and Islamic political power.

PEN American Center to Honor Charlie Hebdo
The PEN American Center announced that they plan to honor the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo at a gala in New York this May. Jean-Baptiste Thoret, the magazine’s film critic, will accept the PEN/Toni and James C. Goodale Freedom of Expression Courage Award on behalf of his colleagues. Thoret arrived late to work on January 7, barely escaping the attack on the Charlie Hebdo office. The Executive Director of PEN, Suzanne Nossel, stated, “it is the role of the satirists in any free society to challenge the powerful and the sacred, pushing boundaries in ways that make expression freer and more robust for us all…”

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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