French Books USA: Week in Review

April 13, 2017 | By by Matthew Kent

Adonis Receives Pen Nabokov Award for Achievement 

The poet Adonis was awarded the PEN/ Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature, bestowed upon those whose work translated in English has an enduring impact on the global literature community. It will be handed off May 3rd at Albertine Books. According to PEN America, “His great body of work is a reminder that any meaningful definition of literature in the 21st century must include contemporary Arabic Poetry.” His writing reaches beyond poetic tradition, confronting norms in both the East and West. Adonis, who moved to Paris in 1985, has much of his work translated in both English and French, including his Adonis: Selected Poems (The Margellos World Republic of Letters).

Remembering Robert Silvers, Serge Doubrovsky, George Braziller

March has unfortunately seen the deaths of three important literary figures: Robert Silvers, Serge Doubrovsky, and George Braziller. Robert Silvers was one of the Founding Editors of New York Review of Books, one of the most respected intellectual journals in the country. Well-known literary critic, writer, and professor Serge Doubrovsky was a former professor at New York University. He helped propose the genre «autoficition ». He received le Prix Médicis for his work Livre Brisé in 1989. American book publisher George Braziller, whose independent publishing house, George Braziller Inc. introduced Americans to groundbreaking novelists, poets and new voices from abroad, including those of Jean-Paul Sartre and Orhan Pamuk, passed away at the impressive age of 101.

This March's Salon du Livre

The Salon du Livre de Paris, France’s largest event dedicated to books took place from March 24th to the 27th.  Morocco was invited as the Guest of honor, bringing authors such as Abdellah Taïa, who is participating in this year’s Albertine Prize for his work, Infidels translated into English by Alison L. Strayer and published by Seven Stories PressThis year’s event welcomed close to 160,000 visitors, a 3 percent increase compared to last year. 

Good News from Le Centre National du Livre

Le Centre National du Livre, recently released their study, “Les Français et la Lecture.” The study focused on the contemporary perception of book culture and the evolution of reading practices. The goal was to better understand today’s trends to determine if there has been a drop in readers and the best way to resolve the issue. According to the study, 84% of French citizens who participated called themselves casual readers while 26% were avid readers. Over 60% enjoyed paperback books, while 22% preferred delving into eBooks. A miniscule 2% say they only prefer eBooks. What is more interesting is that novelsin particular noir novels, remain the most appreciated genre (69%). The comforting study bolsters the fact that the French continue to read as much now as in the past.

Punk Rock Star and Novelists Saving Homes of Important Literary Figures

American Author James Baldwin spent much of his career in France writing works such as Notes of Native SonNobody Knows my name, and Giovanni’s RoomBaldwin’s former house on the Côte d’Azur has been left derelict. Novelists such as Shannon Cain, Dereke Clements and Hélène Roux are passionately leading the effort to preserve the home. Other artists have been getting involved in the protection of literary homes: Patti Smith purchased the home of Rimbaud. In this house Rimbaud wrote his most famous work, Saison en EnferFor Smith reconstructing the home is both a dream come true and a civic duty: "I devoted so much of my girlish daydreams to Rimbaud. Rimbaud was like my boyfriend."