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Oct 26
Virtual Talk With Gisèle Sapiro ONLINE EVENT La Maison Française - NYU Arts & Science 16 Washington Mews New York, NY 10003
Oct 26
Virtual Talk With Gisèle Sapiro ONLINE EVENT La Maison Française - NYU Arts & Science 16 Washington Mews New York, NY 10003
Oct 27
DC JazzFest - Jacques Schwarz-Bart La Maison Française - Embassy of France 4101 Reservoir Road, NW - Washington, DC

Week in Review: July 5, 2021

One Minute to Midnight 

French publishing giant Gallimard made headlines recently with the announcement, on June 23, that their parent company Groupe Madrigall was buying out independent publisher Editions de Minuit. Founded underground in Paris in 1941 under the French Resistance, Editions de Minuit has been under the management of the Lindon family since 1948, in which time it has published some of the most celebrated French literature of the last half century, including works by Marie Ndiaye, Samuel Beckett, and Marguerite Duras. Some of Minuit’s star authors expressed trepidation at the merger, with Jean Echenoz stating “I am a little worried”; however, current president Irène Lindon maintained that this was the best move to secure the future of the publishing house. The exact terms of the arrangement have yet to be divulged to the press. 

The New Storytelling: Video Games as Literature 

As technology continues to make gaming more immersive, the experience of playing video games has not infrequently been compared to reading a book; intricately designed, multi-level choose-your-own-adventure games themselves have been heralded as a new realm for storytelling. In the upcoming Games for Change free festival, organized by the nonprofit G4C, which provides support to individuals and organizations using video games to promote social change, a panel delves deeper into the connection between video games and classic literature. On July 12, “Video Games and Literature: Stories that Engage”, featuring speakers ranging from game designers to representatives from France’s Bibliothèque Nationale, will examine why and how video games are interested in literature, and how combining these storytelling forms can be used to rediscover a work while engaging the player, through examining video game adaptations of Thoreau’s Walden, Orwell’s Animal Farm, and more. Interested readers can register for the free panel here

Thanking the Academy: Eisner Awards, French Voices, and more 

Following David Diop winning the International Man Booker Prize—the first French author and first writer of African descent to receive the honor—for his book At Night All Blood Is Black, translated by American poet Anna Moschovakis, June continued to be a busy month for award announcements. At the start of the month, Hugo Lindenberg was named the winner of the 2021 Livre Inter prize—France’s “people’s prize” for literature—for his debut novel Un jour ce sera vide, in a uniquely noncontentious decision by the prize’s layman’s jury. In comics news, there are many French and Francophone writers, artists, and creators among this year’s Eisner award nominees, known as the Academy Awards of the comic book world. Notably, cartoonist Thomas Cadène is nominated in two categories for two separate works, “Best Digital Comic” for Soon, by Cadène and Benjamin Adam (tr. Margaret Besser), and “Best Webcomic” for BFF, by Cadène, Clément C. Fabre, and Joseph Saffiedine (tr. Emma Wilson). On June 15, World Literature Today announced the 10 finalists for the 2022 Neustadt International Prize for Literature, two of whom are Francophone authors: French writer Jean-Pierre Balpe and Senegalese novelist Boris Boubacar Diop, who is the author of Murambi: The Book of Bones, among other texts. The Neustadt Prize recognizes significant contributions to world literature and carries a 50,000USD cash award. The French Voices Grand Prize winners were also announced in June, with Louis-Philippe Dalembert’s The Mediterranean Wall (tr. Marjolijn de Jager) winning for fiction and Pierre Charbonnier’s Affluence and Freedom (tr. Andrew Brown) for nonfiction. Other nominees included The Ungovernable Society by Grégoire Chamayou (tr. Andrew Brown), which is the 2020 Hemingway Grant recipient for funds awarded to assist in the title’s English translation.  

Pride Doesn’t End After Pride Month 

For those of us who somehow did not finish all 500+ books recommended for Pride month, fear not, there is still time and worthy titles to help you get your Pride on belatedly. You can—and should—continue to read queer literature all year, starting with The Works of Guillaume Dustan, Volume 1, by Guillaume Dustan (tr. Daniel Maroun), which Vulture called a “landmark” and included in their list of “35 Books We Can’t Wait to Read This Summer”. Through the publication of this work and others, Semiotext(e) Press has been praised for furthering gay liberation through formal innovation by generating “a reading list for queer French autofiction and [bringing] back a chunk of New Narrative”. If your Pride temporary tats have worn off, you can carry a copy of Virginie Despentes’ new neon paperback edition of King Kong Theory or one of the sorbet-shaded Vernon Subutex trilogy titles (all translated by Frank Wynne) to add a pop of color to your cuffed jeans—plus its small size is pocket-friendly for those of you still rocking Carhartts. Finally, those embroiled in the kink at Pride discourse should check out Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tam’s Arcadia (tr. Ruth Diver), which features a relationship between its intersex teenage protagonist and the Boomer leader of the commune she inhabits. Bayamack-Tam stated at a recent event hosted by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, “I consider anything that happens between two consenting adults to be orthodox”. No shaming here! 

Prix Albertine Jeunesse Winners Announced 

The Prix Albertine Jeunesse, a readers’ choice award for translated Francophone children’s literature selected annually for and by children aged 3-14, named this year’s winners in June after announcing the shortlisted titles earlier in the spring. The prize, which aims to instill a love of reading in young readers of both French and English, has an annual theme, which this year was “Appearances”. The theme and initial book selection were decided by a committee that comprises members of the staff of Albertine Books in New York City, the AEFE network of North America, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the U.S., and the French Embassy in Canada. Ten books were nominated in total across four categories based on the age of the book’s intended readership: 3-5 years; 6-8 years; 9-11 years; and 12-14 years. The Rorschach-test-illustrated picture book An Eye For An Eye  (Oeil pour oeil) had the distinction of being nominated in all categories. The 2021 prize for readers aged 3-5 went to Deep in the Ocean, while the prize for winners aged 6-8 was awarded to Blob: the Ugliest Creature in the World. For middle-grade readers, the winners were Captain Rosalie for readers aged 9-11, and The Missing of Clairdelune, the second book in Christelle Dabos’s The Mirror Visitor quartet, for readers aged 12-14. The latter book was the only non-illustrated title among the nominees, suggesting an appetite for more complex translated chapter books among older readers. Interviews with the winning authors and illustrators can be read here.