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2020 French Voices Awards: Second Session

We are pleased to announce the winners of the second 2020 French Voices Awards session: Six French titles whose translations the French Voices Committee cannot wait to see in print.

Established in 2006 by the French Embassy and FACE Foundation, these awards seek to recognize translators and publishers of outstanding works. Since the program’s creation, it has supported numerous talented writers, and this year’s winners join a fantastic roster of authors published in the colletion.

We are eagerly seeking a U.S. publisher for Pascal Quignard’s La Réponse à Lord Chandos, translated by Stéphanie Boulard and Timothy Lavenz. For questions regarding the book, please email us so that we can share more information and a sample translation. For older titles seeking an American publisher, please go to the following page.

We want to express our heartfelt congratulations to all of the lucky winners! The Grand Prizes will be announce shortly.

The winners are as follows:

Mur Méditerranée by Louis-Philippe Dalembert (Sabine Wespieser/ Schaffner Press, Inc., translated by Marjolijn de Jager)

A starkly realistic and haunting contemporary novel in which three young women refugees from different parts of Africa and the Middle East are thrown together in their attempt to escape the ravages of war, famine and poverty to find a new home in Europe. Despite their disparate backgrounds, ethnicity, class, and religions, they create a bond in order to survive the harrowing trip by boat–a ramshackle fishing trawler–across the Mediterranean to freedom and an uncertain future. Dalembert’s novel tackles a delicate subject without falling into clichés on immigration or presenting the issue as a black and white dichotomy. He furnishes a well-documented novel and gives a human and modern dimension to a collective tragedy, and uses a unique storytelling style that alternates between the conventional and an original spoken form.

La Réponse à Lord Chandos by Pascal Quignard (Éditions Galilée/Seeking an American Publisher, translated by Stéphanie Boulard and Timothy Lavenz) 

In an imagined response to Hofmannstal’s 1901 "Lord Chandos Letter", Quignard mirrors the direct and “interminable” style of the original, as well as its language and citations, yet offers an opposing view of life in language. He counters the idea that silence lies outside or before language and rejects Chandos’s renunciation of literature. He makes a plea instead for literature as that which "puts language to silence" to make the cry of the soul heard. This detailed and compelling vision of the capability of the written word condenses Quignard’s poetics and offers a wellspring of themes to which he insistently returns in later works. Quignard’s fluid prose is exceptional and deserving of international recognition. 

Pour Elles Toutes : Femmes Contre la Prison by Gwenola Ricordeau (Éditions Lux/Verso Books, publication  Spring 2022, translated by Emma Ramadan and Thomas Roberge)

Feminist struggles and struggles for the abolition of the penal system and prison are often presented as antagonistic. The purpose of this book is to untie this knot by exploring the forms of protection that women can (or cannot) expect from the penal system and highlighting the ways in which prison affects women's lives, whether they are incarcerated or have loved ones in prison. Does the penal system protect women? What does it do to the women who face it? Why should feminists oppose jails? Drawing on examples from across Europe and North America, scholar and activist Gwenola Ricordeau presents a well-documented argument that feminism must take up prison abolition, and that anti-incarceration activism will likewise get nowhere without attending to the needs and struggles of women. Ricordeau’s narration is both intelligent and fluid as she presents a lesser-known angle on intersectional feminism.

The Sand Rush: An Environmental History of Los Angeles’ Beaches by Elsa Devienne (Éditions de la Sorbonne/Oxford University Press, publication March 2022, translated by Troy Tice)

Whereas the history of Los Angeles’ urban development usually centers on its infamous landscape of sprawling inland suburbs, Devienne’s book boldly shifts the focus to the city’s hidden edges—the Pacific coastline—and proposes a radical re-reading of the city’s growth and relationship to the environment. Using a wide range of data, from engineering reports to popular literature, The Sand Rush recounts the formidable beach modernization campaign that transformed Los Angeles into one of the world’s greatest coastal metropolises. The Sand Rush not only uncovers how the Los Angeles beaches were constructed, but also how modernizing impulses conspired to exclude certain groups from the city’s largest public space. It also clarifies the role of coastal spaces in postwar metropolitan economies and the rise of a modern environmental consciousness. Devienne’s work calls into question the validity of large-scale U.S. infrastructure projects in a clear and readable prose that should appeal to American readers.

La vie ordinaire des génocidaires by Richard Rechtman (CNRS Editions/Fordham University Press, translated by Lindsay Turner)

When we speak of mass killers, we may speak of radicalized ideologues, mediocrities who only obey orders, or bloodthirsty monsters. Who are these men who kill on a mass scale? Where is their conscience? Don't they feel horror or compassion? According to writer-psychiatrist-anthropologist Rechtman, it is not ideologies that kill, but people. This book descends into the ordinary life of people who execute hundreds every day, the same way others go to the office. Bringing philosophical sophistication to the ordinary, the book constitutes an anthology of mass killers. Rechtman’s book has received high praise from readers and scholars alike for its compelling perspective and originality.

« Il faut s’adapter » : Sur un nouvel impératif politique by Barbara Stiegler (Éditions Gallimard/Fordham University Press, publication December 2021, translated by Adam Hocker)

Stiegler’s book reorients Foucault's genealogy of neoliberalism by emphasizing the Darwinian (or Spenserian) rhetoric of adaptation as it arose in the Lippmann-Dewey debates.  It forms a critique of the neoliberal imperative to “adapt,” and has served as a key text in resistance to reforms. According to philosopher and academic Perry Zurn: "This book is cleanly and compellingly written, deeply researched, crisply conceived, and flawlessly executed. It offers an intriguing new genealogy for the development of neoliberalism”. Stiegler’s work covers a well-trodden subject from a new and fascinating approach, and its clear prose is accessible to scholars and non-specialists alike.

For more information about our first session awards please visit this page.