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Week in Review: October 21, 2019

Photo of Maylis de Kérangal

Article by Jessica Erin Cohen


A Beautiful and Complex Non-Fiction Collection 

Earlier this month, the Dorothy, a Publishing Project published Me & Other Writing, a new guidebook to Marguerite Duras’ wide range of explorative and beautiful non-fiction works, translated by Olivia Baes and Emma Ramadan. Duras was a prolific French novelist, playwright, and screenwriter, who joined the Resistance during the Second World War and the Communist Party in 1945. Her collection has been praised for its originality, artfulness, and complexity, and described by Kirkus Reviews as a “luminous, erudite exploration of self and art.” Her “fragility,” or “unwillingness to define something as good or bad, to dictate the difference between right and wrong,” commands engagement from readers and submerges them into a series of extreme, fluctuating emotions. Her personal essay “The Horror of Such a Love,” included in the collection, exemplifies this sensation and is available for preview here. Articulating the powerful and touching experience of reading Duras’ work, Julia Berick from the Paris Review wrote, “it can be hard to tell if you are pressing your hands to her chest or if she is pressing her hands to yours. Has she mined your deepest feelings or have you caught her heart’s fever?”. 


A Family's Struggle For Inclusion and Opportunity   

Older Brother, by Mahir Guven (Europa Editions, 2019), is an “eye opening account” of a Franco-Syrian family that struggles to integrate itself into French society. Published in France in 2017, it won the 2018 Goncourt Prize for best debut novel. The story unfolds in the margins of Paris, where two brothers and their father grapple with inter-familial tensions and the ever-present “threats of Uberization and terrorism in the modern world.” Critics and readers have praised the young author’s “witty and bouncy storytelling” and his “reporter’s knack for balancing a chorus of perspectives” about societal and economic problems. 


Surviving Charlie Hebdo


Disturbanceby journalist and novelist Philippe Lançon (Europa Editions, Nov 2019, trans. by Steven Rendall), is a “frank, relentless, gripping memoir” about the aftermath of the 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack. As a witness and survivor who was wounded by a bullet that shattered his jaw, the author shares his “most intimate fears” and his “slow, pained road to recovery.” Publishers Weekly celebrated his work as “clear-eyed, endlessly curious, and never sentimental” and a testament to how the “rich powers of observation and reflection” can “bridge a chasm of tragedy.” Lançon will release the English translation of his memoir, highly recommended for all audiences, this November, before embarking on an East Coast tour from January 24 - February 2. 


Maylis de Kérangal On Tour

From November 4-8, Maylis de Kérangal, author of the award-winning novel The Heart, will be presenting her latest work, The Cook (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2019, trans. by Sam Taylor), in New York and Washington, DC. Written like a “prose poem,” the novel explores human passion through the coming of age journey of a young, self-taught cook. Immediately after its release, it was selected as the Rumpus Book Club Pick of the month and one of BBC Culture’s Top Ten Books to Read. Stop by the Maison Française of NYU, the 92nd Street Y, or Solid State Bookstore to learn more about Kérangal’s “fitfully delectable” and inventive work.

Festival Albertine 2019: The Climate Moment

In just two weeks, this year’s Festival Albertine will bring together a diverse range of authors, activists, politicians, researchers, and artists to discuss the current climate crisis and what we can do about it. With opening night already sold out, don’t wait to reserve your spot at the panels on November 9th and 10th! Political scientist Romain Felli, Stanford University engineer Mark Jacobson, and French activist Priscillia Ludosky will discuss how fast we can hit the targets set in the Paris Agreement and whether they are technically possible and politically achievable. Journalist and advocate Cherri Foytlin, filmmaker Clément Guerra, author Jade Lindgaard, and environmental justice organizer Bryan Parras will explain how local governments can step into the national policy-making void. Events will be moderated by Bill McKibben and begin with a short reading by Climate Change Theatre Action (CCTA)