French Books USA: Week in Review

May 2, 2016 | By Amy Martin
Jean Genet

Celebrating Jean Genet

Jean Genet was unable or unwilling to imagine his plays being remembered by posterity, but he was proven wrong when they were published by the esteemed Biblothèque de la Pléiade. On the anniversary of his death (April 15), Le Nouvel Obs remembered this momentous publication in order to commemorate Genet. He was an influential author who turned his own experiences as a social pariah into sympathy and support for the oppressed people who were often the subject of his writing.

From the Académie to the 19th Arrondissement: Two Interviews

Andreï Makine and Karim Miské were in New York City last week for the PEN World Voices Festival as part of their US tours. Makine, author of Brief Loves that Live Forever and A Woman Loved, sat down with French Morning to discuss defending the French language as a member of the Académie Française and traveling in the US. Miské spoke with Sam Gordon, the translator of his debut novel Arab Jazz, about his short stay in the 19th arrondissement while writing and how his protagonist Ahmed is his literary double. Miské is in California this week.

Myths of the French Resistance

Olivier Wierviorka’s The French Resistance is a Publisher's Weekly Staff Pick! In his book, the historian investigates the compelling and complex questions of who the World War II resisters were and what difference they made. This new look at the structure of the Resistance manages to undo the simplistic myths surrounding its role—as a heroic representation of the hopes of the country or a small group providing cover for collaboration.


From the longlist to the finalists: Arvida by Samuel Archibald and French Voices Award-winner Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop both remain on the 2016 Best Translated Book Award shortlist! The winner will be announced May 4.

Meanwhile, six French titles were nominated for the 2016 Eisner Awards. In the kids’ comics categories are Anna Banana and the Chocolate Explosion by Dominique Roques and Alexis Dormal, and Moose by Max de Radiguès. The first volume of Riad Sattouf's The Arab of the Future got a nod for Best Reality-Based Work. And on the International list: A Glance Backward by Pierre Paquet and Tony Sandoval, The March of the Crabs by Arthur de Pins, and The Realist by Asaf Hanuka.

A Novel by the Numbers

Mathematician and novelist Michèle Audin explains how she joined the Oulipo and gives us a humorous glimpse of the organized chaos of their meetings. Her recently published One Hundred Twenty-One Days plays with numbers and perspectives, using multiple narrators in an Oulipian framework based on troubadour poetry. Her novel seems to ask, “How does one recount a story, when memory is so frail? Perhaps the story would slip away without numbers, dates to pin it down as history.”

Publicity Internship

If you want my job, it can be yours! The Book Department here at the French Cultural Services is looking for an American communications intern to start July 1, tasked with writing and translating promotional materials, Tweeting like a pro, and updating our website, among other things. More details are available here.

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