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French Books in the US: 2021 Edition

Article updated on October 12, 2021

As with every year, the Cultural Service of the French Embassy is delighted to share with you the list of the translated French books in the United States.


This year, despite the difficult conditions we are currently living in, with a global pandemic that has deeply impacted the book market, we are proud to announce that 430 titles will be translated from French to English and published in the United States in 2021.


FICTION

In fiction, 99 books will be published by American publishers in 2021. Among them are many timeless classics, but contemporary works remain more popular in the US market. The majority of novels released in the U.S. had been published in France in the last 5 years, which testifies to the interest of American publishers in contemporary works of fiction.

Many American publishers continue to believe in the talent of French novelists by publishing previously unreleased writers such as Samira Sedira or Franck Bouysse, who will be translated for the first time in the United States this year.

Several authors with many of their works published in English will be translated once again in 2021 like Emmanuel Dongala with his fiction The Bridgetower Sonata: Sonata Mulattica (Schaffner Press), Hervé Le Corre's thriller In the Shadow of the Fire, Tahar Ben Jelloun’s novel The Pleasure Marriage (Northwestern University Press), Tatiana De Rosnay and her novel Flowers of Darkness (St Martin's Press), Maryse Condé’s fiction Waiting for the Water to Rise (World Editions) and Yasmina Kadra's fiction Khalil (Doubleday). This proves that many French authors have firmly established themselves on the American market and that US publishers trust them to continue to win over audiences year after year.

Many winning authors will appear in American bookstores in 2021 including Amélie Nothomb, winner of the Grand Prix Jean-Giono in 2008, Christine Angot, winner of the Prix de Flore in 2006, and Leila Slimani, winner of the Prix Goncourt in 2016. They have managed to build a solid reputation beyond borders for many years. Some releases are particularly anticipated such as the 2017 Prix Goncourt des lycéens winning book by Alice Zeniter (The Art of Losing, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), and of course the last winner of the 2020 Prix Goncourt, Hervé Le Tellier (The Anomaly, Other Press).

Classics or Contemporary classics will also be published this year such as Jean Giono's The Open Road (New York Review Books) and Ennemonde, (Archipelago Books), André Gide's Marshlands (New York Review Books), and Simone De Beauvoir's The Inseparables (Ecco/HarperCollins).


NON-FICTION

American interest in French non-fiction has grown over the years and it is the most translated genre with 143 titles. It is an increase compared to 2020 (120 titles published then). 

For many years, philosophy has been considered a French specialty and this year is no exception. In 2021, great authors will be published in the United States including Barbara Stiegler with Adapt: On a New Political Imperative (Fordham University Press)Achille Mbembe with Out of the Dark Night: Essays on Decolonization (Colombia University Press), and Manon Garcia with We Are Not Born Submissive. How Patriarchy Shapes Women’s Lives (Princeton University Press). Titles like Jean-Luc Nancy’s Sexistence (Fordham University Press) and Tell the Truth about Yourself (University of Chicago Press) by Michel Foucault are also highly anticipated.

For the history buffs there are many forthcoming works to choose from Terror: The French Revolution and its Demons by Michel Biard and Marisa Linton (Polity Press), Living in Death: Genocide and Its Functionaries by Richard Rechtman (Fordham University Press), The Belle Époque by Dominique Kalifa (Columbia University Press), Terra Incognita: A History of Ignorance, 18th-19th Century by Alain Corbin (Polity Press) and Nadine Fresco’s On The Death Of Jews: Photographs And History (Berghahn Books).

Social and political essays are also well represented. We can mention Maboula Soumahoro’s Black is the Journey (Polity Press), Philippe Askenazy's Share the Wealth: How to End Rentier Capitalism (Verso), Grégoire Chamayou's The Ungovernable. Society: A Genealogy of Authoritarian Liberalism (Polity Press), and Nathalie Etoke's Shade of Black (Seagull Books).

Economics will be represented by Michel Callon with Markets in the Making: Why We Need to Change the Way We Think about Competition, Goods, and Innovation (Zone Books), Ndongo Samba Sylla, and Fanny Pigeaud with Africa's Last Colonial Currency: The CFA Franc Story (Pluto Press), and Maurizio Lazzarato's Capital Hates Everyone: Fascism or Revolution (Semiotext(e)).

The production of books on ecology, and environmental issues has increased the most these past few years with titles like Another End of the World is Possible: Living the Collapse (and not merely surviving it) by Pablo Servigne, Gauthier Chapelle, and Raphaël Stevens (Polity Press), and Affluence and Freedom: An Environmental History of Political Ideas by Pierre Charbonnier (Polity Press).

This year also see a new trend with fascinating books on the subject of animal studies with authors such as Vinciane Despret's The Dance of the Arabian Babbler: Birth of an Ethological Theory (University of Minnesota Press), In the Eye of the Wild by Nastassja Martin (New York Review Books) and Baptiste Morizot's on the Animal Trail (Polity Press).

Finally, several biographies and memoirs are making the cut this year with Clamor by Hocine Tandjaoui (Litmus Press), Amkoullel: The Fula Boy by Amadou Hampâté Bâ (Duke University Press), Beirut 2020 by Charif Majdalani (Other Press), Refugee by  Emmanuel Mbolela, (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), To Live Is to Resist: The Life of Antonio Gramsci by Jean-Yves Fretigne (University of Chicago Press), The Ocean's Whistleblower: The Extraordinary Life of Daniel Pauly by David Grémillet (Greystone Books) and I Was a French Muslim by Mokhtar Mokhtefi (Other Press).


GRAPHIC NOVELS

With 140 translations in the United States scheduled for 2021, French comics are still charming new audiences. Publishing houses such as Dupuis, Dargaud, Le Lombard that belong to Média Participations, Delcourt and Glénat have thus become a reference in the United States.

The indispensable classics Thorgal (Cinebook), Gomer Goof (Cinebook), Old Geezers (Ablaze), and Bluecoats (Cinebook) continue to be translated as do great authors like Jacques Tardi, Cyril Pedrosa, and Frédéric Richaud.

In 2021, Americans will also have the chance to discover strong titles on emblematic figures in Women Discoverers: Top Women In Science by Marie Moinard and Christelle Pécoult (NBM) and Orwell by Pierre Christin and Sébastien Verdier (SelfMadeHero) as well as dystopias like Human Stock Exchange 2 by Xavier Dorison and Thomas Allart (Cinebook), Authorised Happiness 3 by Jean Van Hamme and Griffo (Cinebook), Memories from The Civil War by Richard Marazano and Jean-Michel Ponzio (Cinebook) and Ashes Ashes by Jean-David Morvan (Magnetic Press).


CHILDREN BOOKS

We end this article with children’s books including fiction, non-fiction, picture, board, pop-ups, and reference books. Very powerful works, created by talented authors and illustrators, continue to seduce American audiences over the years.

In total, 33 titles will be published in the United States in 2021. Children will discover beautiful books on nature such as Plants on the Move by Emilie Vast (Charlesbridge), Fossils from Lost Worlds by Damien Laverdunt and Hélène Rajcak (Gecko Press), Pop Up Earth by Anne Jankeliowitch, Olivier Charbonnel and Annabelle Buxton (Thames & Hudson) but also committed books such as I Have the Right to Culture and I Have the Right to Save my Planet both by Alain Serres and Aurélia Fronty (Groundwood Books).

The majority of these books are originally published in France by independent publishing houses such as 404 Éditions, Éditions Les Fourmis Rouges, Éditions MeMo, L’École des loisirs, L’Élan vert as well as Rue du monde. 


If a publication has been overlooked or a title’s date has been postponed, please contact us at 972livre@gmail.com, and we will update our list without delay.

If you need more information about previous publications, you can check our articles for 20202019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

We hope that these recommendations improve your future reading experience.

2021 Translation list

 

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