French Books USA: Week in Review

January 26, 2017 | By Jeremy Albet

Night of Philosophy and Ideas: Los Angeles & New York

Building on the success of the first Night of philosophy, which drew a crowd of more than 5000 people to the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in April 2015, and on the inaugural “Nuit des Idées” organized in January 2016 in Paris by the Institut Français, this very anticipated event is back in the US. Two exceptional back-to-back events are happening this week: The Night of Ideas takes place on January 26 in Los Angeles from 7pm to 2am and tackles the question of utopia; A Night of Philosophy and Ideas is held this Saturday from 7pm to 7am at the Brooklyn Public Library. Be a part of this free all-night marathon of debate, original performances, art installations and readings, featuring more than 50 philosophers and artists from around the World!

International Comics festival in Angoulême

One of the biggest comics festivals in the world takes place each year in Angoulême, this year from January 26th to January 29th, bringing forward world-renowned artists around panels, workshops and book signings. Exceptional exhibitions are on the program this year, notably on Japanese artist Kazuo Kamimura and on Jean-Claude Mézières and Pierre Christin’s series ‘Valérian and Laureline’, which will be adapted on screen by Luc Besson (worldwide release in July 2017); as well as on the towering American genius Will Eisner.

Rebuilding from hope in Rwanda

Asymptote released an excerpt from Harvest of Skulls by Abdourahman A. Waberi, to be published by Indiana University Press in February 2017. Following the author’s journey to Rwanda in 1998, four years after the genocide of between 500,000 and one million Rwandan citizens, this collection of six pieces – reportages, essays and short stories – invites us to think about the question: how to write after a tragedy? Yet despite the ‘years of criminal governance’, Rwanda is still ‘a foretaste of a what a paradise looks like’, with a ‘tradition of hospitality’ rooted within the hopeful heart of a population rebuilding its home, full of ‘energy’, ‘fresh ideas’ and ‘courage’.

The passing of Harry Mathews

The Book Department was saddened to learn of the passing of Harry Mathews, reported yesterday by the Paris Review. The only American writer to be a member of the OuLiPo – a literary movement created by Georges Perec and Raymond Queneau dedicated to exploring new possibilities in literature through mathematical constraints – Harry Mathews was also associated to the New York School of avant-garde writers. A prolific poet, essayist and novelist, he also translated from the French. The OuLiPo legacy lives on in the US, as seen with the recent publications of Anne Garréta and Michèle Audin at Deep Vellum and Hervé Le Tellier at the Other Press and Dalkey Archive.