A New Era of French Novels: The Inculte Collective

July 22, 2014 | By FRENCH CULTURE BOOKS

The Inculte collective, created in 2004, began as a publishing house, which printed an eponymous journal review (until 2011) and several collective critical works. They also publish the French version of The Believer magazine (Le Believer). The name of the collective comes from its will to “not worship [in French vouer un culte] anyone” while “excluding the discourse of specialists”. This collective, first called a “literary case study” for its unusual, even off-the-wall writings, is now recognized as the stronghold of French literary innovation. Its highly respected authors are published in famous French publishing houses such as Gallimard, Actes Sud, Allia and Verticales.

The group is composed of the following writers, editors and philosophers: Bruce Bégout, Arno Bertina, Claro, Alexandre Civico, Mathias Enard, Hélène Gaudy, Maylis de Kerangal, Mathieu Larnaudie, Stéphane Legrand, Nicolas Richard, Oliver Rohe and Jérôme Schmidt. Others also regularly contribute to the collective’s writings such as Philippe Vasset or Joy Sorman.

Inculte’s work for the last decade has breathed new life into French novels. And their hybrid or rather protean forms of literature such as “documentary novels" have helped to revitalize the book scene. According to author Emmanuelle Pireyre the “documentary fiction” directly integrates “the datas of the real world: testimonies, statistics, internet dross, images, reports, sociological analysis, newspaper articles etc.".

Inculte’s French novelists, with their pluralistic roles as investigators, analysts, and journalists, place great emphasis on the material and linguistic exploration of the world in order to “create new sentences” (Joy Sorman). To write documentary fiction, one has to be able to “weave the documentary as a poem” (Maylis de Kerangal), that is to say not to look for an original subject, but rather to talk about it in an uncanny manner. The French novel, always changing, still has many fruitful years ahead of it.

This post is a partial translation from an article in French published in BibliObs.

Authors on Tour

This fall, meet Oliver Rohe and Philippe Vasset who will participate in the Critique and Create festival (a forum on French and American periodical literature) on November 7th and 8th in New York, and who will then each be hitting the road for a tour of the US.

Maylis de Kerengal will also be in New York for a talk at the Maison Française of NYU on October 27th.

Inculte Authors' Books in English

Bruce Bégout:
Zeropolis: The Experience of Las Vegas translated by Liz Heron, Reaktion Books, 2002
Common Place: The American Motel translated by Colin Keaveney, Otis Books, 2010

Arno Bertina:
Brando, My Solitude translated by Anne-Laure Tissut, Counterpath Press, 2008

Claro:
Electric Flesh: A Novel translated by Brian Evenson, Soft Skull Press, 2006

Mathias Enard:
Zone translated by Charlotte Mandell & introduced by Brian Evenson Open Letter, 2010
Street of Thieves translated by Charlotte Mandell, Open Letter, 2014

Maylis de Kerangal:
Birth of a Bridge translated by Jessica Moore,Talonbooks, 2014

Oliver Rohe:
Vacant Lot translated by Laird Hunt, Counterpath Press, 2010
Origin Unknown translated by Lauren Messina and Jane Kuntz, Dalkey Archive Press, 2013

Philippe Vasset:
Script Generator translated by Jane Metter, Serpent’s Tail, 2005


To find out about all the latest news on French books and translations in the US from the French Embassy Book Department team, follow us on Twitter @FrenchBooksUSA.

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.
Sign in or register to post comments.