French Books USA: Week in Review

February 4, 2016 | By Amy Martin

Édouard Louis's History of Violence

After the phenomenal success and critical acclaim of his 2014 bestseller, En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, about the difficulties of growing up homosexual in a working class town, the 23-year-old Édouard Louis released Histoire de la violence this January. The book reveals the complex story of a romantic encounter turned violent and conveys the author’s views on the social structures that lead to violence in modern France, including class and sexuality. This second novel, recently discussed in a video debate between Grégoire Leménager of L’Obs and Jean-Christophe Buisson of Figaro-Magazine, is sure to be as outstanding and as controversial as his first. En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule will soon be available to American readers.

More Angoulême Awards

After last week’s news that Hermann won the Grand Prix, the Angoulême Festival continued throughout the weekend, honoring writers and artists for their work in graphic novels and comic books. This year’s Gold Prize for best album was granted to Here by Richard McGuire, in which one location—the corner of a living room—is portrayed from ancient history into 22,175 A.D., with a focus on the 20th century. Pozla won the Special Jury Prize for Carnet de santé foireuse (Lousy Health Record), depicting the artist’s experiences living with Crohn’s disease. Prizes were also granted to Ms. Marvel Vol. 1, for Best Series, and Tungstène, for Best Crime, among others.

Eisner Award Nominations

Now that the Angoulême Festival has granted their yearly awards, their American counterpart has begun their selection process. Administered by Comic-Con International, the Eisner Awards recognize comics artists from around the globe, and this year, Hall of Fame nominees include two influential French artists: Françoise Mouly, founder of Raw magazine and art director at The New Yorker; and Jacques Tardi, creator of Adèle Blanc-Sec and It Was the War of the Trenches. Two artists, Carl Burgos and Tove Jansson, were automatically inducted into the Will Eisner Comic Awards Hall of Fame, while Mouly and Tardi are on a list of nominees who will be voted into the remaining four seats. Some other famous names on the list include Rube Goldberg, Edward Gorey and Matt Groening.

Keira Knightley as Colette?

A Hollywood biopic about the multi-talented Colette is in the works. The film will likely depict the life story of the novelist, including her complex relationship with one of her husbands, writer Henry Gauthier-Villars, who published her Claudine stories under his own nom-de-plume and deprived her of their earnings after they divorced. This won’t be the first film about this iconic woman, but it is the first to be made outside of France. Keira Knightley is being courted to play the author, and Wash Westmoreland, director of Still Alice and Carol, will be in charge behind the camera.

All of Proust in One Play

Previous adaptations of Proust’s novels into films and plays have not always found their audience, due in part to the inseparability of the author’s style from his narration. Polish director Krzysztof Warlikowski’s new stage version of In Search of Lost Time, called The French, focuses not on Proust’s writing but instead on his fantasies and obsessions. The often provocative director cites a foreigner’s perspective as the source of his interest in Proust as an author “on the margins of society.” The new play, on tour in France throughout 2016, is not so much an adaptation as a work that incarnates the spirit of Proust, condensing the plot while holding the audience’s attention every minute of the four-and-a-half-hour running time.

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