French Books USA: Week in Review

May 8, 2015 | By Kyra Sturgill
Algerian writer Kamel Daoud received the Goncourt First Novel Prize for his book "The Meursault Investigation," which will be published in English next month.

Kamel Daoud Awarded Goncourt First Novel Prize
The Académie Goncourt awarded Algerian writer Kamel Daoud its award for best first novel this week for his book, The Meursault Investigation (Meursault, Contre-enquete). Daoud’s novel retells Albert Camus’s classic The Stranger (L’étranger) from the perspective of the brother of the unnamed Arab man who is murdered by Camus’s protagonist Meursault.  The English translation (John Cullen), which will be published by Other Press next month, has already received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.  

Standing Ovation for Charlie Hebdo at PEN Gala
On Tuesday evening, Gerard Biard, editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo, accepted on behalf of the magazine’s staff the PEN Freedom of Expression Courage award. Biard gave a speech which argued in defense of Charlie Hebdo publishing shocking and offensive material, saying doing so ultimately combats extremists who wish to limit free speech with tactics of fear. “Being shocked is part of the democratic debate. Being shot is not,” he said, receiving a standing ovation from the audience. 

BnF Exhibition on Barthes
This week the Bibliothèque nationale de France opened “Les écritures de Roland Barthes, Panorama," an exhibition dedicated to the French writer, philosopher and literary theorist, who would have turned 100 this year. The BnF’s exhibit provides a look at his work not only through his published books, but also through the library’s expansive archives of his original manuscripts, outlines and handwritten notes. By doing so, the exhibit hopes to provide a “spectacle of writing” that retraces Barthes’ intellectual path.

Remembering Claude Durand
French editor and translator Claude Durand passed away on May 7th, 2015 at the age of 76. Durand, who directed the French publishing house Fayard for nearly thirty years, played an essential role in the French publishing world throughout the latter half of the twentieth century. Also a translator of English and Spanish, Durand translated and published many writers of Latin America. He most notably introduced French readers to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, translating One Hundred Years of Solitude with his wife in 1967. He was also the publisher of Michel Houellebecq and Alexandre Soljenitsyne.

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