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2019 French Voices Awards Announced

We are thrilled to present the 2019 awards to thirteen books, seven of which are looking for an American publisher. Half of the books are fiction, half are nonfiction, and seven were written by women and seven by men.

Since 2016, the jury of the French Voices Committee has selected texts for the French Voices Awards that celebrate the art of translation and the work of American publishers who publish and promote contemporary French works in translation.

We, at the book department, had been holding off on sounding off the good news for a bit as we were looking for a suitable date to announce the winners. But unfortunately, it seems that we will not be able to have an in-person ceremony for the time being. The raised glass in honor of these fabulous works will have to wait. We will surely find a way to celebrate these titles shortly but it is high time to announce the good news and alert you on these upcoming publications. 

We are also here very eager to find a good home for the titles seeking an American publisher. For any questions please email us at 972livre@gmail.com. We'll be happy to provide more information about these titles, sample translations, and more.

Congratulations to the happy winners and to the happy readers they will delight!


Trop noire pour être Française by Isabelle Boni-Claverie Tr. by Joshua Jordan,
(Tallandier, 2017 / Seeking an American publisher - please contact Dominique Missika and Joshua Jordan for further information)  

Isabelle Boni-Claverie offers an American readership rare insights into the differences and similarities of racial dynamics in her own country and the US. At once a sociological portrait of France, a multiracial family album, and a transatlantic bildungsroman, Too Black to Be French will undoubtedly appeal to readers eager for a passionate fresh voice devoted to better understanding today’s world, and how race and class both are inescapable realities in contemporary societies.

Isabelle Boni-Claverie sensitively leads us to ponder our relationship with alterity. At once funny, moving and uncompromising Bonie Claverie's book ends on a happy notes as it engages us to bet on real equality.—senscritique.com 


Pina by Titaua Peu Tr. by Jeffrey Zuckerman
(Au Vent des Îles, 2016 / Seeking an American publisher - please contact Lucile Bambridge for further information)

In Pina, the Tahitian author Titaua Peu draws the portrait of a modern-day Polynesia torn asunder by misery and the differences that separate people from one another. By shedding light on the many kinds of violence—moral, familial, sexual, social—on the other side of glossy postcard photos, Pina shows how a young girl struggles to find her way out of abuse and despair and into a promising future.

"The novelist seizes the reader with her fiery prose, serving her whirlwind story about the crossing paths of many different characters."—Télérama 



Gare d'Osnabrück à Jérusalem by Hélène Cixous, Tr. Peggy Kamuf
(Editions Galilée, 2016, Fordham University Press, 2020)

Working from family archives, Cixous tells the story of her uncle André, a German Jew, who died at Auschwitz. In 1938, he had tried to emigrate from Berlin to join his daughter and other family members in Jerusalem, only to be sent back upon his arrival by his daughter, telling him, “this is a young country for young people.” Cixous’s treatment is in many ways literary—interwoven, at moments, with King Lear—but the book is ultimately a close reading of the archival materials she was able to piece together.

"[...] an act of imagination, investigation, sojourn, and witness driven by terrible necessity and marbled with fierce, incomparable beauty."–Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts

Les Jours vivants by Ananda Devi, Tr. by Jeffrey Zuckerman
(Gallimard, 2013 / Feminist Press, 2019)

On Portobello Road, an old woman, Mary Grimes, clings to her final days, and particularly the memory of Howard, her long-lost youthful love. She retreats increasingly inward, isolating herself within her home and her mind. A chance encounter with Cub, a young boy from Brixton, unexpectedly jolts her back into the world of the living.

In this timely novel, Ananda Devi continues her exploration of mythical places and haunted beings.

"Brutal and entirely believable, a gorgeous and haunting depiction of London and the real lives and memories of those unseen within it."—Publishers Weekly

Ma part d'elle by Javad Djavahery, Tr. Emma Ramadan
(Gallimard, 2017/Restless Books, 2020)

In exiled Iranian author Javad Djavahery’s captivating English debut, a youthful betrayal during a summer on the Caspian sea has far-reaching consequences for a group of friends as their lives are irrevocably altered by the Revolution. Urgent and gorgeously written, My Part of Her captures the innocence of youth, the folly of love, and the capriciousness of fate as these friends find themselves on opposing sides of the seismic rifts of history. ***we could send back to the author on tour page if we publish it in time***

"Djavahery’s novel is an aching evocation of paradise lost, one that is impossible to regain, even in our narrator’s searching dreams. Vivid, shattering, and utterly memorable.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Les Oeuvres de miséricorde by Mathieu Riboulet, Tr. by Jeffrey Zuckerman,
(Verdier, 2012, Seeking an American publisher - please contact Colette Olive for further information 

Determined to investigate both the tension-fraught history of the relationship between France and Germany and, more broadly, the timeless relationship between violence and mercy, Riboulet's narrator finds answers to these questions not in a documentary or testimonial, but in physical bodies,  desired and touched, painted and filmed. The winner of the Prix Décembre and a finalist for the Prix Sade, Les Oeuvres de miséricorde is a contemporary masterpiece, a labor of love that unflinchingly depicts mercy and the men who strive for it.

"What should we do with all those who have died? Where should we live? How should we love each other?" These obsessions, fueled by the ravages of history, are just as strong as Riboulet's fascination with Caravaggio; in this thrilling book, rustling with violence and love, he attempts to respond to these questions."— L'Express

Double nationalité by Nina Yargekov, Tr. by Daria Chernysheva
(P.O.L., 2016 / Seeking an American publisher. Please contact Vibeke Madsen

A woman awakes at Roissy airport, bereft of any memory of her past.  Piecing her life together, she uncovers a dual belonging, one to France and one to the imagined country Yazigie, a pastiche of a former Eastern bloc republic. The protagonist's reconstruction of her life serves as a platform for a cunning exploration of identity and modern Europe.

"It is her captivating way of examining words, her amazing sense of narrative allied with a rare freedom of tone - lighthearted prose can be the vehicle for a ferocious message (this is summarizing but I think it gets the idea across)."—Elle

Nos Richesses by Kaouther Adimi, Tr. by Chris Andrews,
(Seuil, 2017/ New Directions Publishing, 2020)

Our Riches celebrates quixotic devotion and passion for books in the person of Edmond Charlot, who at the age of twenty founded Les Vraies Richesses (Our True Wealth), the famous Algerian bookstore/publishing house/lending library. Cutting brilliantly from characters Charlot to Ryad, from the 1930s to the modern day, from WWII to the bloody 1961 Free Algeria demonstrations in Paris, Adimi delicately packs a monumental history of intense political drama into her swift and poignant novel. But most of all, it’s a love song to books.

"An understated, lyrical story of reading and resistance over the tumultuous generations."—Kirkus Reviews (Starred)

La France des Belhoumi by Stéphane Beaud, Tr. Juliette Rogers,
(Editions La Découverte, 2018 / Seeking an American publisher - please contact Delphine Ribouchon for further information)

Inspired by the story of three Algerian sisters whom he met at one of his lectures, sociologist Stéphane Beaud's La France des Belhoumi conducted an inquiry over several years. The essay unknots the yarns of a complex plot, relating working-class transformations, scholarly destinies of children of poor immigrant backgrounds, and the socio-urban changes on the outskirts of major cities. 

"This multi-voiced biography, whose originality relies on its collective characteristics and the singular reflexivity of each tale, shows different integration processes being completed."—France Culture 

Tombée des nues by Violaine Bérot, Tr. Ros Schwartz
(Editions Buchet Chastel, 2018 / Seeking an American publisher - please contact Foreign rights for further information) 

Narrated in seven voices over four days, the novel charts the effect of an unforeseen birth on those intimately involved. Innovative in form and a compelling read, Tombée des nues addresses the much-debated issues around motherhood, pondering whether the maternal instinct is innate; and exploring two of today’s major taboos for women: not wanting children, and struggling to bond with her baby.

"We leave these pages with the sensation of being richer in humanity, as after (this is fine) living an uncommon experience."—Corinne Renou-Nativel, La Croix

Catharsis by Luz, Tr. by Sophia Barry
(Catharsis, Futuropolis, 2015 / Seeking an American publisher - please contact Sylvian Coissard for further information) 

Catharsis outlines Luz's trials and tribulations in processing and overcoming his grief following the 2015 terrorist attack at the magazine Charlie Hebdo that claimed 12 lives, 8 of whom were employees and close friends of Luz. Through Catharsis, we accompany Luz through the raw, messy, confusing journey of suffering, life, and love post-tragedy.

"In these untitled comic books, Luz self-analyzes and delivers a poignant testimony of the fatal day, and those coming after."—Libération

Civiliser l'Europe: Politiques du théâtre francais au XVIIIe siècle by Rahul MarkovitsTr. by Jane Marie Todd
(Fayard, 2014 / University of Virginia Press, 2020)

What is cultural domination on the international scene? Forget about Hollywood and the American way of life - in the eighteenth century, France was the dominant cultural power in Europe. Or was it? Rahul Markovits's book offers a new take on this phenomenon, and it does so by considering the emblematic case of the theatre.

"Civilization and culture, Gallicisation and acculturation, hard power and soft power, [...] cultural imperialism and rhetoric of freedom, [...] these are the many notions that Markovits' study on the European peregrinations of 18th-century French theatre invite us to reexplore."—journals.openedition.org

Dans l'ombre du brasier by Hervé Le Corre, Tr. by Tina Kover,
(Payot & Rivages, 2019 / Europa Editions, 2020)

The "bloody week" of the Commune of Paris in 1871 represents/serves as the savage climax of the confrontations between Communards and the people of Versailles. Among the shells and the chaos, a photographer, fascinated by the pain of young women, takes "suggestive" pictures to be sold to select clientele. One day, a couple's daughter disappears, fostering (this word has a positive connotation, maybe try “spurring” instead) a race against time to find her.

"The modernity of this historical novel relies on the drama echoing other times. In Hervé Le Corre's vibrant style, the battles of the Commune of Paris reflects others (Stalingrad, Sarajevo, Homs)."—Le Monde

Stay tuned. 2020 first session winners will be announced later on this summer.