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Holidays with French Books

As the snow begins to fall and the chimneys light up, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy bring you a short selection of the best books, translated from French and published in the United States, to read during the winter holidays. We hope that they will appeal to you for a gift for the holiday season.


The Classics

Lost Illusions by Honoré de Balzac Translated by Raymond N. MacKenzie (University of Minnesota Press, May 2020)

Winter holidays are ideal times to immerse yourself in classics. In Balzac's Lost Illusions a young poet, Lucien de Rubempré, chooses to leave his provincial town and try his luck in Paris with the desire to become famous and access the aristocratic world. But this quest for glory may be more difficult than he had hoped... A masterful work to discover or rediscover.

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The Red Scarf Followed by ‘Two Stages’ and Additional Notes by Yves Bonnefoy | Translated by Stephen Romer (Seagull Books, November 2020)

What would Christmas be without the revelation of family secrets? Just before he died, Yves Bonnefoy gave us this magnificent work, the result of a long research on his family's past. In this autobiography, he reveals the deeply touching story of Elie and Hélène, his parents, through the questioning eyes of the child he was. A mysterious relationship marked by silences and concerns that will fascinate you.

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Contemporary

The American Fiancée by Eric Dupont | Translated by Peter McCambridge (Harper Collins, February 2020)

At a time prone for sharing and family meeting, share the crazy life of the Lamontagne's. In this family, we have Louis, born on Christmas Day, and his father newly remarried with "The American" woman. Her incredible cooking recipes inspired Louis's daughter, Madeleine, who will open a diners' chain far from her hometown. There is also Madeleine's son, Gabriel, who succumbs to the charms of a woman who will call everything into question. A hilarious novel marked by secrets and twists.

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That Time of Year by Marie NDiaye | Translated by Jordan Stump (Two Lines Press, September 2020)

Nothing better than reading a good thriller these times around. When summer reaches its end, Herman and his family decide to return home after spending a peaceful vacation in a provincial village. But Herman’s wife and daughter are missing. The welcoming village in tourist season becomes the scene of a nightmare for Herman. He will do everything to find his family amidst the secrets of the villagers, strange traditions and supernatural phenomena. A disturbing tale by acclaimed novelist and playwright Marie NDiaye.

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Non Fiction

Afrotopia by Felwine Sarr Translated by Drew S. Burk (University of Minnesota Press, March 2020)

How about a philosophical journey to Africa? In his essay, Sarr, draws the contours of an African Utopia, one that encourages Africa to reinvent itself by drawing on the many resources it possesses. Afrotopia is a powerful meditation and optimistic outlook on the creative potential of Africa by economist Felwine Sarr, co-author of the groundbreaking report on art restitution.

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Losing Culture: Nostalgia, Heritage, and Our Accelerated Times by David Berliner | Translated by Dominic Horsfall (Rutgers University Press, May 2020)

Many are worried that cultural traditions will fade over time. The fear of losing our heritage is shared by many around the world. This nostalgia, essential to humans, can however be perceived as a conservative movement at odds with the evolution of our societies. A fascinating anthropological work that we strongly recommend!

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Comics

Versailles: My Father's Palace by Maïte Labat and Jean-Baptiste Veber (Humanoids, September 2020)

What could be better than to walk the sumptuous alleys of Versailles, one of the most famous castles in the world? A fascinating portrait of Pierre de Nolhac, an emblematic figure who dedicated his life to the restoration of Versailles and the safeguarding of its collections. Like his father, Henri devoted everything he had to the protection of the castle, even if it meant setting his family aside.

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The Golden Age, Book 1 by Roxanne Moreil and Cyril Pedrosa | Translated by Jeremy Melloul (First Second, November 2020)

For some, the end of the year rhymes with tales and legends. This magnificent medieval story reflects on the golden age legend, a time of freedom that was soon replaced by a world marked by famine and poverty. Despite the many trials and plots mounted against her, Tilda, King Ronan's rightful heir, will do anything to get her people out of this terrible nightmare and bring this forgotten golden age back to life. A sumptuous graphic novel that will remind you of the greatest scenes of Game of Thrones!

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Children's Books

Bookscape Board Books: Christmas Cheer by Ingela P. Arrhenius (Chronicle Books, September 2020)

A superb board book that immerses young readers in the exquisite period of the holidays. Colorful illustrations and a unique format bring the magic of Christmas to life with songs, decorations, snowmen, Christmas tree, pastries and, of course, the long-awaited letter to Santa Claus. An ideal gift for the holiday season!

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The Mirror Visitor by Christelle Dabos | Translated by Hildegarde Serle (Europa Editions, September 2020)

Enter the fantastic world of Ophelia, an extraordinary heroine who has the gift of reading the past of objects by touching them and the ability to travel through mirrors. Promised in marriage to Thorn, a dark and mysterious figure, she must leave her family to go to the Citaceleste, the floating and icy capital of the North Pole. There, she discovers a ruthless world marked by secrets and betrayals. Little by little, Ophélie will learn that her presence, far from being trivial, is in fact part of an extremely dangerous political plot. The third volume of this fantastic saga has just been released!

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