French Books USA: Week in Review

June 12, 2015 | By Kyra Sturgill
The annual conference for the Association des bibliothécaires de France seeks to find solutions for the problems currently facing libraries and librarians.

Cartoonist’s Graphic Memoir
Catharsis, the graphic memoir by the Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Luz, confronts his personal trauma and relationship with cartooning in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo attack in January. Arriving late to the office that day, Luz narrowly missed the attack to which he lost friends and colleagues. The book does not address ideology or terrorism, but rather the cartoonist’s personal experiences with his confrontation of grief. The French magazine L’Obs is displaying five panels from the graphic memoir, which was published in France last month.

Librarians Gather in Strasbourg
Members of the Association des bibliothécaires de France (ABF) are gathering in Strasbourg, France this weekend for their 61st annual meeting. Over 700 librarians have gathered for the conference which will consist of meetings, panels and workshops, this year aiming specifically to confront the challenges faced by libraries and librarians. The theme of the gathering, “Inventer pour surmonter,” indicates the organization’s determination to address innovation in order to rise above the library’s current struggles.

European Commission Opens Antitrust Investigation of Amazon e-Book Pricing
The governing body of the EU announced its antitrust investigation that will look into whether Amazon’s current practices in e-book pricing are stifling competition in the European e-book market. They will examine how the contracts between Amazon and publishers, which currently require publishers to inform Amazon if they are offering better conditions for other retailers, are affecting innovation and competition in the market.

French-American Foundation Translation Prize
The winners of the French-American Foundation’s 28th annual Translation Prize for fiction and nonfiction translated from French to English were announced this week. For fiction, the prize went to Donald Nicholson-Smith’s translation of The Mad and the Bad by Jean-Patrick Manchette. The prize for best nonfiction translation went to David Ball’s translation of Diary of the Dark Years, 1940-1944: Collaboration, Resistance, and Daily Life in Occupied Paris by Jean Guéhenno.

French Literary Prize Recap
Many French literary prizes have been announced in recent weeks. The prix Pétrarque, which is awarded by Le Monde and France Culture in recognition of nonfiction essay writing, recognized wife and husband Beate and Serge Klarsfeld, who together authored Mémoires. Co-edited by publishing houses Flammarion and Fayard, the joint memoir recalls the couple’s efforts to enable prosecution of Holocaust war criminals. The French-Israeli writer Valérie Zenatti received the award prix du Livre Inter for her novel Jacob, Jacob, the story of a young Jewish soldier during World War II and his experience in the liberation of France in 1944. The prix Marcel Pagnol was awarded to Gilles Leroy for his novel Le monde selon Billy Boy. Each year this prize recognizes a book that specifically focuses on memories of childhood. The book is Leroy’s portrayal of his parents’ meeting and the months leading up to his birth. Both Leroy and Zenatti will be touring the US this fall.   

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