French Books USA: Week in Review

April 2, 2015 | By Kyra Sturgill
The BnF turned 20 on March 30

Improving Mood in French Book Market
Publishers Weekly offered a snapshot of the French publishing industry as part of a series that looks into international publishing markets in anticipation of the 2015 London Book Fair. PW spoke with Maggie Doyle, the foreign acquisitions director at Editions Robert Laffont. According to Doyle, moods have improved in the French book market as 2015 sales have already shown a 7% increase in comparison to last year. Michel Houellebecq’s Soumisson, and Patrick Modiano’s Pour que tu ne te perdes pas dans les quartier are two books that Doyle said are currently selling well in France. E-books still compose a smaller part of the market (3%-5%), but Doyle does believe the digital book market will continue to grow in France.

Honoring 20 Years of the BnF
March 30th marked the 20th anniversary of Francois Mitterrand’s unveiling of the massive Bibliotèque National de France. The anniversary was celebrated as the current BnF president, Bruno Racine, and the French Minister of Culture, Fleur Pellerin, reflected on the institution’s history and future. Pellerin touched on a new initiative to keep libraries across France open on Sundays, in order to create and promote access to culture for all. The agency of the architect Dominique Perrault, who was the individual responsible for designing the four massive towers that make up the national library, has created a website displaying a timeline of the library’s development and construction, as well as many other fascinating facts about the structure. For example, the entire library holds 81 elevators.  

Charlie Hebdo Cartoonist to Publish Book
Luz, a cartoonist for Charlie Hebdo, announced that he would publish a graphic memoir that recounts his experiences on January 7th, 2015, the day of the attacks on the offices of the French satirical magazine, as well as its aftermath and coping with the loss of his colleagues and friends. The book, which is titled Catharsis, is Luz’s deeply personal and “therapeutic” project. It will be published by Futropolis and released on May 21st.

Quais du Polar Celebrates Crime Fiction
Thousands of visitors and writers gathered in Lyon last weekend for the eleventh annual Quais du polar, a three-day celebration of crime fiction. There were 70,000 visitors this year and 30,000 books were sold. The writers of crime fiction (polar en français) in attendance hailed from 23 different countries.  In honor of the event, L’Express compiled a list of their top 12 polars by various French, Spanish, and American authors.


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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