French Books USA: Week in Review

March 31, 2016 | By Amy Martin
James Ellroy

James Ellroy’s Gift to Parisian Victims

American crime novelist James Ellroy made a most generous gift to France—the country where Ellroy had his first real success. He decided to give all of his royalties from last year to the victims of the November 13, 2015 Paris terrorist attacks. Ellroy made the decision right after the tragic event as a gesture of solidarity and had requested that his gift remain secret. The secrecy around his gracious donation ended this week.

Best Translated Book Award

We are pleased to announce that seven books translated from French are on the 2016 Best Translated Book Award longlist, sponsored by the publisher Open Letter. The five novels are Kamel Daoud’s remarkable debut The Meursault Investigation, Samuel Archibald’s Arvida, Sphinx by Oulipo member Anne Garréta, in addition to French Voices Award-winners Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s Tram 83, and Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop. Poets Fréderic Forte and Abdourahman A. Waberi also made the list.

Goodbye, Alain Decaux

Alain Decaux passed away last Sunday at the age of 90. He was a prolific historian who wrote 49 books and thousands of articles in his lifetime. Decaux was also a member of the Académie Française and served as a Deputy Minister of Francophonie under François Mitterrand, work for which he earned the honor of a literary prize in his name. But he was perhaps best known as a master storyteller, who brought history into people’s homes as a television and radio host.

Riad Sattouf, Cartoonist

As the child of French and Syrian parents, Riad Sattouf’s multicultural experiences described in his successful graphic novels have touched a nerve with a wide spectrum of admiring readers. They often consider the artist and author to be a Syrian expert, but he admits, in an interview with the Guardian, he hasn’t been back to his father’s homeland since he was a teenager and so rejects any authority on the matter. In fact, he goes so far as to reject all national identity in favor of his own chosen group: cartoonists. The Arab of the Future 2: A Childhood in the Middle East, 1984-1985 will be published by Metropolitan Books in September 2016.

Authors Awarded Legion of Honor

The 2016 Spring selection of Legion of Honor recipients celebrates the publishing industry and its authors, with editor Isabelle Gallimard, sociologist Edgar Morin, essayist Mireille Delmas-Marty, anthropologist Philippe Descola, and editor of the iconic Le Robert dictionary Alain Rey named as recipients. Children's book author Susie Morgenstern, Renaudot prize-winner Martine Le Coz, and comics artist Joann Sfar were also named Chevalier.

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