French Books USA: Week in Review

March 21, 2017 | By Matthew Kent

Nominees revealed for the Albertine Prize

On March 16, the ten novels selected for the inaugural Albertine Prize, a reader’s choice award for contemporary French fiction translated into English, were revealed. Guests were able to take part in the launch by exploring the Payne Whitney Mansion over a glass of wine and to discover extracts of the books read by actors. Readers are now able to vote for their favorite novel on Albertine’s website until April 30th. The nominees are Couple Mechanics by Nelly Alard, Constellation by Adrien Bosc, The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal, Eve out of Her Ruins by Ananda Devi, The Little Communist Who Never Smiled by Lola Lafon, Suite for Barbara Loden by Nathalie Léger, Ladivine by Marie Ndiaye, Infidels by Abdellah Taïa, Naked by Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and Bardo or Not Bardo by Antoine Volodine. The winner will be announced on June 6th by co-chairs Lydia Davis and François Busnel at a ceremony held at Albertine bookstore.

Nina Leger Receives 2017 Prix Anaïs Nin

Young French author Nina Leger recently received the 2017 Prix Anaïs Nin on February 27th for her work Mise en Pièces. She was rewarded for her passionate novel, which explores the narrator’s sexuality and multiple relationships. The prize, founded in 2015 by the novelists Nelly Alard and Capucine Motte, was created with the goal to help French literature reach the homes of anglo-saxon readers. For its first edition the prize recognized Virginie Despentes for her work Vernon Subutex, 1 to be published this year by MacLehose press. In 2016 it was awarded to Emmanuelle Richard for Pour la Peau.

Celebrating Women’s works

March 8th marked the annual celebration of International Women's Day. On the occasion many publishers such as Penguin Random House, organizations like the New York Public Library, and magazines released their reading lists or female writers . Looking beyond March 8th, graphic novelist Sandrine Revel will be at this year’s PEN World Voices Festival on “Gender and Power” participating in a panel focusing on “cartoonists who challenge the status quo every time they put pen to page.”  Revel won the 2017 Artemisia award recognizing female comics’ creators, for her work Glenn Gould.  This year’s MoCCA Arts Festival, will also feature Pénélope Bagieu, known for California Dreaming and Culottées, a graphic novel dedicated to women who have braved male chauvinism throughout history, which is to be released in the fall the United States. 

Alain Mabanckou and Mathias Énard long-listed for the Man Booker International Book Prize

French-Congolese novelist Alain Mabanckou’s novel, Black Moses and Mathias Énard’s Compass, were long-listed for the Man Booker International Book Prize. The prize recognizes authors whose work demonstrates, "continued creativity, development and overall contribution to fiction on the world stage." Mabanckou’s novel takes place in 1970 in the Republic of Congo in the midst of a Marxist-Leninist revolution. Énard’s, Compass, which will be published in the United States by New Directions in March, is a richly detailed novel that conveys the West’s continuous attraction towards Oriental culture through the eyes of the Austrian musicologist Franz Ritter. The winner of the Man Booker International Prize will succeed last year’s winner The Vegetarian by Han Kang.

Translation of Petit Pays and the Release of Irruption

Gaël Faye’s award winning novel Petit Pays is to be translated into English. Faye’s story of a ten-year-old boy in Burundi during the time of the Rwanda genocide has been nominated for various awards, receiving the Goncourt des Lycéens. Faye is also known for his album Pili pili sur un croissant au beurre, which was recently followed up with his new release Irruption. Since the release of Petit Pays, Gaël Faye, who is also a musician, has been working on his new EP, Rythme & Botanique, which will be released on April 14th this spring.