• Events
Sep 22
When the Waves Have Come and Gone Plage des Catalans
Sep 22
Ideas and Ideals: Strong Female Voices III ONLINE EVENT  Albertine Bookstore/French Embassy 972 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10075 
Sep 22
Ideas and Ideals: Strong Female Voices III ONLINE EVENT  Albertine Bookstore/French Embassy 972 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10075 

Week in Review: March 22, 2019

by William Weingarten


A Sensational Salon du Livre 2019
The Salon du Livre 2019, the “most popular event dedicated to books in France” was held in Paris from March 15-18th. “Livre Paris” adopted a distinctly European twist. To celebrate Europe’s vast literary heritage, the Salon boasted a Scène Europe alongside its Grand Scène and other more genre-specific ones, at all of which were held interviews, conversations and debates on philosophy, politics, the arts and sciences, within the greater context of contemporary literature. Book stands were erected featuring literature particular to each European country. Some of the distinguished speakers at the Salon du Livre 2019 included French authors Maylis de Kerangal, Nicolas Mathieu, Delphine de Vigan and Philippe Lançon. Prior to the event’s start, Le Point covered the events it was most looking forward to, one example being author and performer Stéphane Lambert’s exploration of Francisco Goya’s famed Black Paintings. Additional highly anticipated conversations included Nicolas Mathieu and other prizewinning writers’ panel discussion, A l’épreuve du réel, which explored the efficacy of literature today in capturing and expressing pressing realities at all levels of society.

French Standouts Make the Man Booker International Prize Longlist
Award season is heating up! The longlist for the 2019 Man Booker International Prize was released on March 13th, listing 13 novelists (published overwhelmingly by small publishing houses) including French writers Annie Ernaux and Hubert Mingarelli. Alison Strayer’s English translation of Ernaux’s The Years (Fitzcarraldo/Seven Stories Press, 2017) was hailed by The Guardian as “Ernaux’s masterpiece, her brief Remembrance of Things Past.” Meanwhile, Mingarelli’s Four Soldiers (Granta/The New Press, 2018, translation by Sam Taylor) focuses on the friendships developed in times of crises, “expressed cleverly”, according to Publishers Weekly, “in their peculiar nighttime sharing of a broken pocket watch.” Chair of the panel, Bettany Hughes—an award-winning author and broadcaster herself—lauded the variety of output by 2019’s nominees, who “enrich our idea of what fiction can do.” The shortlist will be announced on April 9th, with the winner to be decided on May 21.

Frédéric Martel’s Sodoma (In the Closet of the Vatican)
Years in the making, French writer-journalist Frédéric Martel’s Sodoma (In the Closet of the Vatican) was introduced in early reviews from The New York Times and The New York Magazine as “sensational” and “devastating”, respectably. Indeed, the exposé of “a vast gay subculture at the Vatican”, and the shady affairs conducted therein, is hard-hitting enough to knock the wind out of practically any audience. Possibly most impressive in Sodoma is the sheer volume of work that went into its conception; Martel interviewed a small army of Vatican residents and employees, some anonymous and some not. Martel’s conclusive assumptions include, among many other bombshells, the prospect of a majority of the most elite of the Catholic clergy’s being homosexual. In the Closet of the Vatican currently ranks on the New York Times’ Bestsellers List in Nonfiction, and is a bestseller across much of Europe and North America.

Lynne Olson Resurrects a French Héroine
Writer and historian Lynne Olson’s latest historical work explores the life of an indispensable leader of the French Resistance’s espionage forces in World War II, titled Madame Fourcade’s Secret War (Random House). Recent reviews from The New York Times, The New York Post and Publisher’s Weekly underscore the power of the titular protagonist, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade (codename: HEDGEHOG), the only female leader of "The Alliance", a spy network of the greater French Resistance movement. Fourcade received little praise for her wartime triumphs in her lifetime. Yet she proves herself a heroine worthy of veneration, who combated Vichy France’s coercive motto—travail, famille, patrie—with an ethos of liberté, égalité, and fraternité. After she passed in 1989, Marie-Madeleine Fourcade received a funeral at Les Invalides, the first woman to receive the honor.

The Heartbreaking Loss of Dominique Noguez
Dominique Noguez, celebrated dark wit, laureate of the 1997 Prix Fémina for his novel l’Amour noir and the recipient of lifetime honors from l’Academie Française, passed away on March 15th. In addition to having produced his own body of work worthy of acclaim, Noguez received credit in an obituary from the Centre National du Livre for having discovered French literary sensation Michel Houellebecq, whose own black wit is well documented. Additional post-mortem pieces on Noguez from Le Monde and Bibliobs depict a singular voice of contemporary literature, whose didactic but hilarious works, like Comment rater complètement sa vie (Payot, 2002) struck at a crucial middle-ground between hope and hopelessness.