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The very best translations from the French !

Previous Grantees

2015
 
CSFE

 


Le crieur de nuit
Nelly Alard
Gallimard, 2010.
Translated by Grace McQuillan.
Seeking an American publisher.

Sophie returns home after the death of her tyrannical father to help prepare for his funeral. She relives her abusive childhood, coming to terms with what it means that he is gone and slowly regaining her taste for life, in a story that is also a true homage to Brittany.

 

Puissance de la douceur
Anne Dufourmantelle
Payot & Rivages, 2013.
Translated by Katherine Payne; to be published by Fordham University Press in April 2016.

Puissance de la douceur explores how gentleness might constitute a form of power. Following up on her previous book Blind Date, a philosophical account of sex, Dufourmantelle here brings philosophy and psychoanalysis to bear on a question that remains marginalized, even as sex has entered our philosophical lexicons.

“Puissance de la douceur invents the writing of gentleness—itself an elusive genre, much like the enigmatic and uncanny force it sets out to describe.”
– Elizabeth Rottenberg

 



Travesti
David Dumortier
Le Dilettante, 2012
Translated by Ava Lehrer.
Seeking an American publisher.

This semi-autobiographical book fearlessly recounts a man’s journey from his brutal childhood in Charente through his life as a writer and transvestite in Paris. The story moves boldly among three distinct voices: the sensitive child who endures a terrorizing father, the daytime writer narrating his visits to schools and his mentorship of children, and the promiscuous cross-dresser who plunges into the depths of intimate human experience. Through poetic flights and startling imagery, Dumortier explores a diverse set of challenging subjects—gender, homosexuality, education and the politics of immigration.

 

Réparateur de destin
Cyrille Fleischman
Éditions Fayard, 2010.
Translated by Lynn E. Palermo and Catherine Zobal Dent.
Seeking an American publisher.

In Destiny's Repairman, published the year of the author's death, Fleischman recreates the postwar Yiddish community in the Marais. Rooted in the small quartier known as the Pletzi with its concentration of Jewish inhabitants originally from Central Europe, this collection is a window to Yiddishkeit, the culture of the Ashkenazi Jews, as it was stitched into the fabric of mid-century Paris.

 

Traduire comme Transhumer
Mireille Gansel
Calligrammes, 2012.
Translated by Ros Schwartz.
Seeking an American publisher.

Traduire comme Transhumer is both memoir and a meditation on the art of translation by the eminent French translator from German and Vietnamese, known particularly for her translations of Nelly Sachs and the poets Reiner Kunze and Peter Huchel. The 26 short texts chart the author’s development as a translator and are thoughtful and exquisitely written.

 

Bain de lune
Yanick Lahens
Sabine Wespieser Éditeur, 2014.
Translated by Emily Gogolak.
Seeking an American publisher.

A girl from the village of Anse Bleue wakes up, washed up on the sand, the waves crashing against her back, wondering how she got there. In Bain de lune, winner of the 2014 Prix Femina, Lahens writes a family epic of violent beauty taking us back three generations into the lives of the Mésidors and the Lafleurs to answer that question. Passing from the first independent black republic, to the American occupation, to years of the Duvalier regime, the novel bravely and lyrically delves into a past of terror and turmoil, political and otherwise, of the two families and, ultimately, of Haiti.

 

Deleuze, les mouvements aberrants
David Lapoujade
Éditions de Minuit, 2014.
Translated by Joshua David Jordan
To be published by Semiotext(e).

David Lapoujade provides an original and persuasive exploration of the central concern from which influential Deleuzian concepts in the domains of philosophy, literature, film, and art originate: aberrant movements. The latter’s “irrational logics” form the basis for Lapoujade’s illuminating and at times provocative claim for the constitutive role they play in Deleuze’s philosophical system. Through his rigorous but always accessible arguments, Lapoujade elucidates a thinker whose difficulty sometimes still remains prohibitive to all too many English-speaking readers, in the process confirming Michel Foucault’s intuition that “un jour, peut-être, le siècle sera deleuzien.”

 

Nous sommes tous des cannibales
Claude Lévi-Strauss
Éditions du Seuil, 2013.
Translated by Jane Marie Todd
To be published by Columbia University Press in March 2016.

Lévi-Strauss begins this group of essays by looking at the strange customs and rituals "that unfold before our eyes and for which our own society is the theater." In each subsequent piece, he takes a current event as a starting point and engages contemporary debates such as “mad cow disease” and differing forms of cannibalism (alimentary and therapeutic) in order to point out that any practice, belief or custom—however bizarre, shocking, or revolting it may appear—can be explained only within its own context. Ultimately, he encourages an understanding of the social factors which underpin these practices.

 

Les Lumières de Pointe-Noire
Alain Mabanckou
Éditions du Seuil, 2013.
Translated by Helen Stevenson
To be published by The New Press in March 2016.

2015
French
Voices
Award

Alain Mabanckou left Congo in 1989, at the age of twenty-two, only to return a quarter of a century later as a decorated writer and an esteemed professor at UCLA. As he delves into his childhood, into the life of his departed mother, and into the strange mix of belonging and absence that motivates his return to Congo, Mabanckou finds he can only look on as an outsider in the place where he grew up. Recalling the writing of V.S. Naipaul and André Aciman, his work offers a startlingly fresh perspective on the pain of exile, the ghosts of memory, and the paths we take back home.

 

Jean Renoir
Pascal Mérigeau
Flammarion, 2012.
Translated by Bruce Benderson
To be published by Running Press in May 2016.

Jean Renoir is an exhaustive and penetrating critical biography of the French filmmaker whose work left an indelible mark not only on his native country but on the one he adopted later in life after he moved to Hollywood. This biography is a fresh approach to the maker of La Grande Illusion and The Rules of the Game. A significant amount of the material in these 1100+ pages is drawn from unpublished or little known sources.

 

Lettre à Zohra D.
Danielle Michel-Chich
Flammarion, 2012.
Translated by Lara Vergnaud.
Seeking an American publisher.

Letter to Zohra D. is an open letter addressed to Zohra Drif, the FLN militant behind the 1956 Milk Bar bombing in Algiers. Danielle Michel-Chich witnessed the devastation of the attack firsthand: the then five-year-old lost her leg and her grandmother was killed. Unable to address Drif in person, she turns to the page to ask if the end justified the means. Far from offering a bitter assignation of blame, the author wishes instead to come to terms with her personal trauma, while appealing for humanity in wartime. Both intimate memoir and stark commentary about the continuing aftermath of the Algerian War of Independence, the book avoids any hint of victimization.

 

L'Autre Portrait
Jean-Luc Nancy
Éditions Galilée, 2014.
Translated by Sarah Clift
To be published by Fordham University Press in October 2016. In this short essay, Jean-Luc Nancy examines the genre of the portrait together with the philosophical question of subjectivity. The English edition will include a new preface and a foreword by Jeffrey Librett.

"This relatively short book … presents yet another exquisite and thought-provoking reflection on the part of an eminent philosopher whose thinking has turned increasingly toward visual art ... [L'Autre Portrait] attempt[s] to approach and articulate the paradoxes of 'the subject,' in a philosophical sense, and in this case in relation to its most direct manifestation as a pictorial figure."
- Jeff Fort

 

Roland Barthes: Biographie
Tiphaine Samoyault
Éditions du Seuil, 2015.
Translated by Andrew Brown
To be published by Polity Press in January 2017.

Samoyault expertly outlines the evolution of this pivotal figure in 20th-century literary criticism, as an intellectual and an individual. Alongside a first class analysis of his major works and theoretical breakthroughs, there are also illuminating accounts of Barthes's early battles for academic recognition and struggles with tuberculosis. With access to unpublished material, including diaries and above all collections of the index cards on which he noted his reflections, Samoyault is able to provide a particularly novel perspective. Released in France for the centenary of Barthes’s birth, the biography has already gained significant recognition, being shortlisted for the prestigious Prix Goncourt.

 


2014

Michèle Audin
[CENT VINGT ET UN JOURS]
Christiana Hills, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Cent vingt et un jours, Gallimard, 2014)

The debut novel of mathematician, author, and Oulipo* member Michèle Audin, Cent vingt et un jours, retraces the lives of French mathematicians over several generations, during World Wars I and II. In keeping with the spirit and aesthetics of the Oulipo, the narrative oscillates stylistically from chapter to chapter, at times resembling a novel, at others resembling a fable, historical research, or a diary, resulting in a book that is at once captivating and original.
*Oulipo, short for "Ouvroir de littérature potentielle", roughly translates into English as “Workshop of potential literature.”

“[Michèle Audin] plays with codes, numbers and dates to create a fascinating and unsettling story.”
– Le Temps

 

Barbara Cassin
[LA NOSTALGIE]
Pascale-Anne Brault, Tr.
Fordham University Press, 2016
(La Nostalgie, Éditions Autrement, 2013)

2014
French
Voices
Award

Through a clever and subtle re-reading of the writings of Homer, Virgil, and Hannah Arendt, the philosopher and philologist Barbara Cassin produces an in-depth analysis, at once scholarly and personal, of nostalgia. Where does nostalgia come from? Where do we truly feel at home? Cassin explores the notion that nostalgia has less to do with place than with language.

“[La Nostalgie is] an erudite work in which [Cassin] incites us to make good use of this ambiguous, delightful and sometimes dangerous feeling.”
– L’Express

 

Dominique Fabre
GUYS LIKE ME
Howard Curtis, Tr.
New Vessel Press, February 2015
(Les types comme moi, Fayard, 2007)

Les Types comme moi exposes the shadowy, anonymous lives of many who inhabit the French capital through the eyes of a middle-aged office worker, divorced and separated from his only son. In this quiet, subdued tale, Fabre's narrator meets up with one of his childhood friends who is similarly adrift, without passions or prospects. The narrator is looking for a second act to his mournful life, seeking the harbor of love and a true connection with his son. A stirring novel of regret and absence, yet not without a glimmer of hope.

"Fabre speaks to us of luck and misfortune, of the accidents that make a man or defeat him. He talks about our ordinary disappointments and our small moments of calm. Fabre is the discreet megaphone of the man in the crowd."
— Elle

 

André Gaudréault and Philippe Marion
THE END OF CINEMA?
Columbia University Press, April 2015
(La Fin du cinéma?, Armand Colin, 2013)

Gaudréault and Colin, specialists in the field of cinematography and media, trace developments in digital technology and their impact on film. Rejecting the notion of the “death of cinema,” the authors suggest that now is the time for the rebirth of the “Seventh Art.”

"La fin du cinéma? Un média en crise à l'ère du numérique, is written by two authors of irrefutable skill who are examining a fascinating topic."
– Cinéfilic

 

Andreï Makine
A WOMAN LOVED
Geoffrey Strachan, Tr.
Graywolf Press, August 2015
(Une femme aimée, Seuil, 2013)

The book’s main character is a documentary filmmaker whose mission is to solve the various mysteries surrounding Catherine the Great. Makine dwells on the fascinating and sulfurous destiny of the historical figure who captivated her contemporaries, from Voltaire to Casanova, as much as she captivates historians today. Makine, who has already been translated in more than forty languages, is a master in the art of depicting deeply humane and moving characters.

“A small marvel of extensive knowledge and melancholy . . . a beautiful critique of contemporary Russia.”
– Le Figaro Magazine

 

Jean-Luc Marion
[LA RIGUEUR DES CHOSES]
Christina M. Gschwandtner, Tr.
Fordham University Press, October 2015
(La Rigueur des choses, Flammarion, 2012)

La Rigueur des choses is a collection of interviews between Dan Arbib and the philosopher Jean-Luc Marion, a leading French Catholicism scholar. The book presents the key concepts of Marion’s philosophy, as well as those of the great thinkers who influenced him, such as Jacques Derrida and Emmanuel Levinas.

“This beautiful dialogue, led by student-come-philosopher Dan Arbib, affords readers a new opportunity to acquaint themselves with a brilliant mind.”
– La Croix

 

Fiston Mwanza Mujila
TRAM 83
Roland Glasser, Tr.
Deep Vellum Publishing, September 2015
(Tram 83, Éditions Métailié, 2014)

Congolese writer Fiston Mwanza Mujila’s first novel, Tram 83, is a gripping story that unfolds in the heart of a crowd gathered at a train station in the capital of a fictitious African country. Tram 83, whose story is well showcased by a fantastic translation, is delightfully funny and energetic.

“A debut novel with a vertiginous rhythm. Picaresque poetry turned into music by a mix of slam and a series of loops and turns as bewitching as a sustained jazz melody.”
– Sean James Rose, Livres Hebdo

 

Peter Szendy
APOCALYPSE-CINEMA: 2012 AND OTHER ENDS OF THE WORLD
Will Bishop, Tr.
Fordham University Press, August 2015
(L’Apocalypse cinéma, Capricci Éditions, 2012)

At once scholarly and impassioned, L’Apocalypse cinéma delves into a major film theme: the Apocalypse. Incorporating research from the fields of film and philosophy, including the work of Spielberg and of Heidegger, among others, Peter Szendy delivers a unique, in-depth analysis of this genre.

“In this prodigiously intelligent book, Peter Szendy reflects on the specific nature of apocalyptic cinema. Organized as a series of brief essays on individual films and recurrent cinematic strategies, Apocalypse-Cinema offers brilliant insights on a genre that has yet to receive all the critical attention it deserves.”
— Marie-Helene Huet, Princeton University

 

Chantal Thomas
THE EXCHANGE OF PRINCESSES
John Cullen, Tr.
Other Press, July 2015
(L’ Échange des princesses, Seuil, 2013)

In her most recent historical novel, The Exchange of Princesses, Chantal Thomas deftly narrates the incredible, true story of two arranged weddings: one between 11-year-old Louis XV and the 7-year-old Marie-Anne Victoire of Spain; and the other between the Regent of France Philippe d’Orléans’s daughter, Louise- Élisabeth de Montpensier, and the future heir to the Spanish throne. This in-depth work is a fascinating account of exploitation and power.

“The magic of the book lies in the extravagance of the period, which the writer masters with a precise, ironic style.”
– Télérama

 

Julia Kristeva
TERESA, MY LOVE: AN IMAGINED LIFE OF THE SAINT OF AVILA
Lorna Scott Fox, Tr.
Columbia University Press, November 2014
(Thérèse, mon amour, Fayard, 2008)

Mixing fiction, history, psychoanalysis, and personal fantasy, Teresa, My Love follows Sylvia Leclercq, a French psychoanalyst, academic, and incurable insomniac, as she falls for the sixteenth-century Saint Teresa of Avila and becomes consumed with charting her life. Traveling to Spain, Leclercq, Kristeva's probing alter ego, visits the sites and embodiments of the famous mystic and awakens to her own desire for faith, connection, and rebellion.

“Ms. Kristeva’s affection for her subject finds effortless expression in a vibrant and persuasive imagining of Teresa as she might have sounded off the page.”
— The New York Times

 


2013

Étienne Balibar
[CITOYEN SUJET, ET AUTRES ESSAIS D’ANTHROPOLOGIE PHILOSOPHIQUE]
Steven Miller, Tr., Fordham University Press, forthcoming in 2015
Citoyen sujet, et autres essais d’anthropologie philosophique, PUF, 2011

This book sets out to answer the question: “who comes after the subject?” Far more than a collection of essays, the work systematically explores Balibar’s most important contribution to philosophical and political inquiry: the necessarily antagonistic relationship between the categories of citizen and subject. His argument moves from the disentanglement of the individual subject to the forms of sociality proper to the citizen, from individuality to the universal, examining the contradictions that haunt this process.
Philosopher Etienne Balibar’s work is widely renowned in France, but he is also a prominent figure among American universities, and serves as a reference for several contemporary authors concerned with postcolonial studies or political theory.
The committee found Citoyen sujet to be Balibar’s most important work. With this book, Balibar reworks his previously published articles in a coherent and ambitious synthesis of his ideas.

"Citoyen sujet is Balibar’s most important book. He reworks his previously published articles in a coherent and ambitious synthesis of his ideas."
—French Voices committee

 

Luc Boltanski
MYSTERIES AND CONSPIRACIES
Catherine Porter, TR.
Polity Press, 2014
Enigmes et complots, Editions Gallimard, 2012

Enigmes et complots is an important work, written by one of the most celebrated "post-bourdieusian" sociologists in France. This new book is a highly original study that uses detective fiction and spy novels to explore the development of modern societies and the modern state in the 19th and 20th centuries. Boltanski’s work is based around three concepts: riddles, conspiracies, and investigations. He analyzes these themes through the study of literary works, and explores their influence on psychoanalysis, political philosophy, and sociology.

“Like any good detective story, this book is written with the ink of irony. And like all spy novels worthy of the name, it ends on a note of exaltation twinned with uncertainty.”
—Le Monde

 

Olivier Cadiot
[Un mage en été]
To be translated by Anna Fitzgerald, seeking an American publisher
Editions P.O.L, 2010

In Un mage en été, Olivier Cadiot deftly and playfully weaves water, film and magic with bits of his own biography to create this fleet and refreshing novel. The project seeks to build on the expert translations, notably by Cole Swensen, which have already brought this exuberant author to English-language readers. Un mage en été demonstrates the diversity of Olivier Cadiot’s artistic talents. He proposes a very personal work that is simultaneously natural, joyous, and exuberant.
The committee recognized Cadiot’s experimental writing, and is convinced that this work will be successful on the American literary fiction market.

"There is something simple, joyful and exuberant about this very personal read. A successful experimental writing."
—French Voices committee

 

Bernard Debarbieux & Gilles Rudaz
THE MOUNTAIN
Jane Marie Todd , Tr., University of Chicago Press, forthcoming in 2015
Les Faiseurs de montagne, CNRS éditions, 2010

In this work, Bernard Debarbieux et Gilles Rudaz recognize that mountains mean different things to different people in different settings. The authors acknowledge but do not focus on the natural sciences, nor do they analyze social representations themselves, as literature has already examined mountains from these angles. Instead, they use these studies as a starting point to explore in greater depth how and why we have come to identify, categorize, and continually reconfigure our ideas of mountains. Our objectifications, they argue, stem from our need to resolve political problems within different historical contexts, with many social and cultural factors shaping our reality and determining how we intervene.
The committee underlined this book's unprecedented contribution to an ongoing debate among geographers, who have yet to agree on the definition of a mountain in all its complexity. This is the first study to comprehensively explore the development of our local, national, and global consciousness of mountains, showing us that mountains are both a geographical and social phenomenon worthy of our attention.

"An unprecedented contribution to an ongoing debate among geographers, whohave yet to agree on the definition of a mountain in all its complexity."
—French Voices committee

 

Julia Deck
VIVIANE
Linda Coverdale, Tr.
The New Press, 2014
Viviane Elisabeth Fauville, Les Éditions de Minuit, 2012

Viviane Élisabeth Fauville is an engrossing murder mystery and a gripping exploration of madness, a narrative that tests the shifting boundaries of language and the self. For inspiration, Deck read the work of another Minuit star, Samuel Beckett, because, as she says, "he positions himself within chaos, and gives it coherence." This breakthrough novel, nominated for the Prix Femina, the Prix France Inter, and the Prix du Premier Roman, follows suit through its arrestingly inventive style. Sure to become a contemporary classic, its author "now belongs to the most exclusive and prestigious family of French literature" (Le Nouvel Observateur). Meticulously constructed, Deck’s novel brilliantly paints a complex woman losing touch with reality. The committee feels that Julia Deck is a promising new novelist, and wishes to support her literary endeavors.

"Julia Deck now belongs to the most exclusive and prestigious family of French literature"
—Le Nouvel Observateur

 

Agnès Desarthe
[Une partie de chasse]
Éditions de l'Olivier, 2012
To be translated by Christiana Hills, seeking an American publisher

Une partie de chasse tells the story of Tristan, a sensitive young man who has been persuaded by his wife to go on a hunting trip in order to "fit in" with the men of their town. Tristan accidentally shoots a rabbit, but upon discovering that the animal is still alive, he hides it in his bag with the intention of setting it free when no one is looking. However, this proves difficult amid the virile atmosphere of guns, blood, and aggressive masculinity.
Mixed with coming-of-age flashbacks and the philosophical musings of a rabbit, Une partie de chasse follows a sensitive individual as he tries to make sense of the violence around him, both in nature and among his fellow human beings.
The French Voices committee has chosen Une partie de chasse for its captivating plot, complex, layered characters, and often experimental writing style. Desarthe’s work has never before been translated into English, despite having won several literary prizes in France (Wepler, Livre inter).

"A poetic novel whose violence is tempered by intelligence and the author’s unstinting originality."
—Marie Claire

 

Charles Frankel
Land and wine
Charles Frankel, Tr.
University of Chicago Press, 2014
Preface by John Varriano
Terre de vignes, Seuil, 2011

Terre de vignes is an accessible book about the geology and soil (terroir) of the best vineyards in France. Frankel deciphers the influence of the land on the aroma and quality of wines, while also demonstrating how geology has a notable influence on the vineyard, the flavors, and the qualities of the wine. The book takes the reader on a journey through France's landscape, tracing the ancient history of its soil and subsoil, beginning 445 million years ago up until present day France.
The committee recognized the potential of this title in the American market: it could easily find readers among food scholars, scientists, food and wine aficionados – anyone interested in French wine. Moreover, few works of this kind have been translated into English. Frankel’s work, filled with sparkling anecdotes, could easily become a key reference in this field.

"A celebration of both science and art, the book demystifies the perplexities of wine"
—John Varriano, from the Foreword

 

Jonathan Littell
THE FATA MORGANA BOOKS
Charlotte Mandell, Tr.
Two Lines, 2014
Récit sur rien”, “Études”, “Une vieille histoire”, Fata Morgana, 2007

The Prix Goncourt–winning author of the scandalous The Kindly Ones returns with a collection of four new novellas that offer startlingly fresh depictions of age-old obsessions: sex and love, desiring and gazing, and the memories that take a lifetime to process. Here, Jonathan Littell crafts unique narrative voices dominated by sensuality, whether the slippery promise of silk underwear, the dizzy intensity of abstract art, the languid torpor of a French beach, the shock of a bull’s goring horn, or the warmth of a fondled breast.
These novellas are as striking as a gust of frigid air, presenting a skewed reality in which the reader must discern who, or what, is telling the story, and why. These are stories about the transience of sex, the way that desire evaporates in satiation and then reappears when two strangers share a long look over a strong drink. Beguilingly easy to read but full of depth and mystery, these four novellas explore the in-between spaces: between thoughts, between bodies, between hungers and their satisfactions, between eyes and the things they look at.

"Littell has undoubtedly succeeded where many ambitious writers have failed. His work reveals something that is desperate and depressing but profoundly important, now as ever."
—The Guardian

 

Serge Gruzinski
THE EAGLE AND THE DRAGON
Jean Birrell, Tr.
Polity Press, 2014
L'Aigle et le Dragon, Librairie Arthème Fayard, 2012

In this extremely well-researched new book, Serge Gruzinski explores the differing ways in which Mexico and China have experienced and dealt with the Europe’s global expansion – in the case of Mexico, it led to the annihilation of the Aztec eagle, whereas the Chinese dragon repulsed the intruders. Gruzinski argues that these events mark a milestone in our history as it is the first time that people originating from three different continents could meet, clash or crossbreed. Gruzinski shows that this meeting of previously separated civilizations has been a subject of fascination for five centuries. In so doing, he provides a highly original exploration of the world of the Renaissance. He also shows that globalization is by no means a new phenomenon and that its origins can be traced back to the 16th century. This book will therefore be of great interest to historians and to anyone interested in globalization and the growing interconnectedness of the world.

"This astonishing ‘planetary synchrony,’ made up of both parallel and diverging histories, is at the helm of Serge Gruzinski’s gripping investigation."
—Le Monde

 

Cyrille Martinez
The Sleepworker
Joseph Patrick Stancil, Tr.
Coach House Books, 2014
Deux jeunes artistes au chômage, Buchet Chastel, 2011

Like a work of contemporary art, Cyrille Martinez’s Deux jeunes artistes au chômage is rich in self-reflection and commentary on the very nature of art, writing, literature, and the commercialization thereof. In a beguiling style, devilishly light and funny, Martinez invents an absurd world where things seem to fall into place in the service of the language itself. Each sentence builds on the hilarity of the last, one by one leading you in unexpected ways to places you never see coming. Very loosely based on the real lives of Andy Warhol and John Giorno, Deux jeunes artistes au chômage takes one small snippet of reality and weaves it into a surreal and wacky landscape in which Martinez can happily—for both writer and reader—play with language, humor, story, art, and artists.
The committee appreciated Cyrille Martinez’s inventiveness and impertinence, and found that as a work that is both experimental and accessible, it would be a fitting addition to the French Voices collection.

"Ironic, iconoclastic, inventive, innovative, impertinent."
—French Voices committee

 

Scholastique Mukasonga
OUR LADY OF THE NILE
Mélanie Mauthner, Tr.
Archipelago Books, 2014
Notre-Dame du Nil, Editions Gallimard, 2012

2013
French
Voices
Award

The powerful voice of this francophone author illuminates a subject that American readers seldom find in fiction or non–fiction: the situation in Rwanda just before the Tutsi genocide. In Rwanda, a school for young girls lays perched on the banks of the Nile, close to its source in the mountains. Their families hope that in this isolated haven, situated far from the temptations of the capital, these girls will remain "pure" for their marriages, negotiated in the interest of lineage. Nevertheless, transgressions soon threaten this beautiful school baptized "Our Lady of the Nile," where a rigorous "ethnic" quota limits the number of Tutsi students to 10%. In this existential microcosm, Mukasonga reveals an atmosphere standing ominously on the edge of genocide.
Scholastique Mukasonga was born in Rwanda and moved to France in 1992, two years before the Rwandan genocide swept through her country. Her work bears witness to the humanity and horrors of the history of her homeland. Notre-Dame du Nil is the winner of the 2012 Prix Renaudot, the 2012 Prix Ahmadou Kourouma, and the 2013 Prix Océans.

"In chiseled prose, Mukasonga fashions a hybrid tale, half-fable, half-social realist novel that provides insights into the genealogy of the Tutsi massacre without sacrificing the depth of its characters."
—French Voices committee

 

Marie-Sabine Roger
[BON RÉTABLISSEMENT]
Louis Cancelmi, Tr., seeking an American publisher
Bon rétablissement, Le Rouergue, 2012

Bon rétablissement tells the story of Jean-Pierre Fabre, sixty-seven, a solitary, peevish man, and self-described “widower, without a dog or children.” Nearly killed by a fall from a bridge one night, Fabre is rescued by a male prostitute and taken to a Paris hospital. He has no memory of the incident that landed him there, but as his stay in the recovery ward stretches on, he decides to write his memoirs. He claims to have grown up an “enfant terrible,” and initially presents himself to hospital staff and other patients as a simple, deranged misanthrope. As his new life in a hospital bed drags on, however, Fabre’s soft side starts to get the better of him, and he understands it’s never too late to reinvent oneself…
The committee emphasized the inventiveness of this book in terms of plot and writing style, witty and tasty.

"Moving, tender, funny, jubilant, profound, warm, human… an incredible gift for telling the simple stories of simple people."
—L’Express

 

 


2012

Benjamin Barth
[RAMALLAH DREAM]
Michelle Nava, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Ramallah Dream : voyage au coeur du mirage palestinien, La Découverte,
2011)

Developing at breakneck speed, the capital city Ramallah in the West Bank is starting to have the trappings of a “modern” society, and all the illusions and escapes that come along with it.

“An eyewitness account of development, conflict, and international aid in the rapidly developing and putatively resurgent metropolis of Ramallah.”
—French Voices committee

 

Pierre Dardot & Christian Laval
THE NEW WAY OF THE WORLD: ON NEOLIBERAL SOCIETY
Gregory Elliott, Tr.
Verso, 2014
(La Nouvelle Raison du monde : essai sur la société néolibérale, La Découverte, 2010)

Exploring the genesis and deployment of neoliberalism, this essay dispels numerous common misconceptions: neoliberalism is more than just a new economic paradigm — it is a system for transforming the human subject.

“This important book helps understand the changes in our society.”
—Le Monde

 

Philippe Descola
BEYOND NATURE AND CULTURE
Janet Lloyd, Tr.
University of Chicago Press, 2013, preface by Marshall Sahlins
(Par-delà nature et culture, Gallimard, 2005)

What is the relationship between nature and culture? By thinking beyond these notions as a simple dichotomy, Descola offers a fundamental reformulation by which both anthropologists and philosophers can see the world afresh.

“Thanks to its richness and its broad scope, this book gives to anthropological reflection a new starting point and will become the compulsory reference for all our debates in the years to come.”
—Claude Lévi-Strauss

 

Davi Kopenawa & Bruce Albert
THE FALLING SKY: WORDS OF A YANOMANI SHAMAN
Nicholas Elliott, Alison Dundy, Tr.
Harvard University Press, 2013
(La Chute du ciel : Paroles d’un chaman yanomami, Plon, 2010)

In this first-person account of cosmo-ecological thought, Davi Kopenawa, shaman and spokesman for the Yanomami, paints an unforgettable picture of the Brazilian Amazon culture, the ensuing cultural repression, environmental devastation, and death.

“I am enormously impressed by this work of such powerful methodological interest and prodigious documentary richness. It wholly captivates the reader yet is simultaneously so complex, raising so many questions.”
—Claude Lévi-Strauss


 

Sylvie Lindeperg
"NIGHT AND FOG"
Tom Mes, Tr.
University of Minnesota Press, 2014
(Nuit et Brouillard : Un film dans l’histoire, Odile Jacob, 2007)

Lindeperg recounts the history of Night and Fog, a 1956 French documentary film directed by Alain Resnais, which made French audiences confront the horrors of the Holocaust.

“Lindeperg asks us very current issues about the relationship between script and film, documentary and fiction, cinema and history.”
—Slate.fr

 

Ivan Jablonka
[HISTOIRE DES GRANDS-PARENTS QUE JE N’AI PAS EUS]
Jane Kuntz, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Histoire des grands-parents que je n’ai pas eus, Seuil, 2012)

Historian Jablonka went looking for the grandparents he never knew. Matès and Idesa were chased out of Poland as communists, became illegal immigrants in France, and were pursued as Jews under the Vichy regime. Living their entire lives in hiding, they were carried off by the tragedies of the 20th century.

“A beautiful, unforgettable book”
—Télérama

 

Laure Murat
THE MAN WHO THOUGHT HE WAS NAPOLEON
Deke Dusinberre, Tr.
With a foreword by David A. Bell
University of Chicago Press, 2014
(L’Homme qui se prenait pour Napoléon, Gallimard, 2011)

Working from unpublished archives and materials of the 19th century, Murat explores the relationship between ideology and pathology, attempting to understand how political events affected mental health.

“A well-documented essay based on unpublished archives […] a beautiful book. Erudite and original”
—Elisabeth Roudinesco, Le Monde

 

Rithy Panh & Christophe Bataille
THE ELIMINATION
John Cullen, Tr.
The Other Press, 2013
(L’élimination, Grasset, 2012)

Rithy Panh was only thirteen years old when the Khmer Rouge expelled his family from Phnom Penh in 1975. His entire family was executed, starved, or worked to death. Thirty years later, he decided to question one of the men principally responsible for the genocide, Comrade Duch.

“The Elimination belongs to the essential books which tell the biggest tragedies of the 20th century. Next to by Primo Levi’s If this is a Man, Robert Antelme’s The Human Race and Elie Wiesel’s Night”
—Télérama

 

Gilles Rozier
[FROM A LAND WITHOUT LOVE]
Pierre Hodgson, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(D’un pays sans amour, Grasset, 2011)

This novel seeks inspiration in the fates of three Yiddish poets and writers that have fled Poland. Their stories allow us to better understand the catastrophy that hit European Jews.

“This Land without love manages the tour de force of making us breathe ‘air from a time that no longer exists,’ but which nevertheless, flying in the face of all logic, persists from sheer resilience.”
—Le Monde

 


2011

Antoine de Baecque
CAMERA HISTORICA: THE CENTURY IN CINEMA
Ninon Vinsonneau, Jonathan Magidoff, Tr.,
Columbia Univ. Press, 2012
(L’Histoire-Caméra, Gallimard 2008)

Antoine de Baecque proposes a new historiography of cinema, exploring film as a visual archive of the 20th century, as well as history’s imprint on the cinematic image.

“Thanks to this book I now understand precisely why and how I am gothic.”
—Tim Burton

 

Véronique Bizot
[LES JARDINIERS]
Youna Kwak, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Les Jardiniers, Actes Sud, 2008)

Six impeccably (un)ruly stories by a writer for whom exploring loneliness and anxiety is an occasion for comforting laughter. The characters are busy digging their graves the way gardeners trim hedges. We are, all of us, gardeners.

“On every page, the author changes course, introducing new characters and unexpected developments, and terrifically manipulating the silences between words.”
—Madame Figaro

 

Didier Eribon
RETURNING TO REIMS
Michael Lucey, Tr.
Semiotext(e), 2013, preface by George Chauncey
(Retour à Reims, Fayard, 2009)

After his father dies, Eribon returns to his hometown of Reims and rediscovers the working-class world he had left behind thirty years earlier. His story weaves together reflections on the class system in France, the role of the educational system in class identity, and the way both class and sexual identities are formed.

“A fascinating and courageous account of how one of France’s leading writers has negotiated a complex, frequently conflicted confluence of social and psychic identities.”
—Leo Bersani

 

Elisabeth de Fontenay
WITHOUT OFFENDING HUMANS: A CRITIQUE OF ANIMAL RIGHTS William Bishop, Tr.
University of Minnesota Press, 2012
(Sans offenser le genre humain : Réflexions sur la cause animale, Albin Michel, 2008)

Fontenay describes philosophy’s ongoing indifference to animal life – shading into savagery, underpinned by denial – and explains how attempts to exclude the animal from ethical systems have demeaned humanity.

“Fontenay is an original thinker, urging us to consider a rethought version of historical materialism and a utopic animalism.”
—Leonard Lawler, author of Early Twentieth Century Continental Philosophy

 

Antoine Lilti
THE WORLD OF THE SALONS
Lydia Cochrane, Tr.
Oxford University Press, 2015
(Le Monde des salons: sociabilité et mondanité à Paris au XVIIIe siècle, Fayard 2005)

A close examination of the 18th century French salon, Lilti’s work overturns several popular myths and gives an interpretive context for issues of sociability, oral culture, gender, public opinion, high politics, class, aristocratic culture, and the social transformations of the Revolution.

“Finally a great social and cultural study on the worldliness.”
—Fabula.com

 

Sébastien Smirou
MY LORENZO
Andrew Zawacki, Tr.
Burning Deck, 2012, preface by Jennifer Moxley
(Mon Laurent, P.O.L, 2003)

Smirou’s book is an elegant, funny, often sad meditation on the 15th century Italian statesman, art patron, and poet Lorenzo de Medici. Obliquely narrated, it telescopes historic depth into intimacy.

“…a captivating read, especially for those whose interest in poetic form has ever veered toward an obsession with perfection.”
—Zoland Poetry

 

Gabrielle Wittkop
[SÉRÉNISSIME ASSASSINAT]
Louise Rogers Lalaurie, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Sérénissime Assassinat, Gallimard 2006)

Gabrielle Wittkop was a self-styled modern Sadeian. Her works explore cruelty, transgressive sensuality, death, and corruption, both physical and moral. But her writing also shows a keen empathy with human suffering, a real enjoyment of the “stuff of life.”

“Utterly original and highly cultivated, Miss Wittkop introduces an aesthetic of excess. Sensual, colorful and fragrant, as jubilant as it is repulsive…”
—Le Matricule des Anges

 


2010

Zeina Abirached
A GAME FOR SWALLOWS
Edward Gauvin, Tr.
Lerner, 2012, preface by Trina Robbins
(Mourir, Partir, Revenir, Le jeu des hirondelles, Cambourakis, 2007)

In this graphic novel, Abirached tells the story of her childhood in Lebanon during the Civil War. One night when the bombing is particularly intense, her parents do not get back home. Neighbors come one by one to the tiny apartment to take care of Zeina and her brother.

“Quietly mesmerizing and thought-provoking.”
—Kirkus Review

 

Giorgio Agamben, Alain Badiou, Daniel Bensaïd, Wendy Brown, Jean-Luc Nancy, Jacques Rancière, Kristin Ross, Slavoj Zizek
DEMOCRACY IN WHAT STATE?
Willam McCuaig, Tr.
Columbia University Press, 2012
(Démocratie, dans quel état ?, La Fabrique, 2009)

Eight iconoclastic thinkers prove the rich potential of democracy, along with its critical weaknesses, and reconceive the practice to accommodate new political and cultural realities.

“An extremely significant contribution to the critical debate on the current state of world politics and, more specifically, to the role of the term ‘democracy’ in political theory and practice.”
—Gabriel Rockhill, Villanova University

 

Gwenaëlle Aubry
NO ONE
Trista Selous, Tr.
Tin House, 2012, preface by Rick Moody
(Personne, Mercure de France, 2009)

Cleaning up her father’s home after his death, Aubry discovered an autobiographical manuscript. A fictional memoir in dictionary form, No One is a vivid exploration of a particular experience of mental illness and what it can reveal more generally about humanity.

“An impassioned novel, a psychoanalytic double session, an examination of the limits of language, and an act of filial devotion.”
—Lynne Tillman

 

Patrick Besson
[MAIS LE FLEUVE TUERA L'HOMME BLANC]
Edward Gauvin, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Mais le fleuve tuera l’homme blanc, Fayard, 2009)

This political thriller depicts the Congo-Brazzaville of today and the Rwandan genocide. Giving a voice to each of his characters, Besson creates a fascinating portrait of Sub-Saharan Africa. He received the Grand prix du roman de l’Académie française and the Renaudot Prize.

“A true achievement! You will leave this book informed, enchanted, and shaken!”
—Le Point

 

François Bon
DAEWOO
Alison Dundy, Emmanuelle Ertel, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Daewoo, Fayard, 2004)

Daewoo is an evocative and powerful novel based on documentary research and interviews with former employees of the Korean corporation. It focuses on the stories of four women and on the haunting absence of a fifth one, Sylvia, who committed suicide after the plant closed.

“The reader is moved and devastated by this exploration of those who have fought to the point of losing connection with life, or even life itself, for one of them.”
—Le Matricule des anges

 

Marc Crépon
THE THOUGHT OF DEATH AND THE MEMORY OF WAR
Michael Loriaux, Tr.
University of Minnesota Press, 2013 preface by Rodolphe Gasché
(Vivre avec: la pensée de la mort et la mémoire des guerres, Hermann, 2008)

Crépon’s book is a call to resist images in which death is no longer actual death since it happens to anonymous others. Seeking instead a world in which mourning the other whose mortality we share points us toward a cosmopolitics.

“A profound meditation on what constitutes evil and a rigorous and illuminating reflection on death, community, and world.”
—Rodolphe Gasché

 

Maylis de Kerangal
[CORNICHE KENNEDY]
Michael Lucey, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Corniche Kennedy, Verticales, 2008)

In an experimental, sensual prose, Corniche Kennedy tells the fierce will to live of marginalized adolescents, and how they are eventually caught in the social order of the world around them. Kerangal received the prestigious Medicis Prize in 2010.

“A beautiful novel that reads like an intensely poetic variation on eternal adolescence.”
—Télérama

 

Stéphane Lacroix
AWAKENING ISLAM: THE POLITICS OF RELIGIOUS DISSENT IN CONTEMPORARY SAUDI ARABIA
George Holoch, Tr.
Harvard University Press, 2011
(Les Islamistes saoudiens, PUF, 2010)

A penetrating look at the political dynamics of Saudi Arabia, one of the most opaque Muslim countries and the place that gave birth to Osama bin Laden.

“An extraordinary contribution that reshapes our understanding of Saudi Arabia and of Islamic politics in the Middle East.”
—Marc Lynch, Director, Institute for Middle East Studies, George Washington University

 

Kettly Mars
SAVAGE SEASONS
Jeanine Herman, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2015
(Saisons sauvages, Mercure de France, 2010)

The Creole culture of Haiti and daily life under dictatorship are at the heart of Kettly Mars’s third novel, a critical reading of the class system and corruption that plagued Haiti during the Duvalier years.

“…a subtle novel, both feminist and political, that plunges into a world where no one dies a natural death.”
—Le Nouvel Observateur

 

Thierry Maugenest
THE STRANGE DEATH OF SULLIVAN CHANCE
David Beardsmore, Tr.
Roaring Forties Press, 2014
(Audimat Circus, Liana Levi, 2007)

Part round-the-world adventure – think Phileas Fogg in Around the World in Eighty Days – part philosophical dramedy – think Voltaire’s Candide – Maugenest’s novel beautifully mocks our modern global life of hyperactive media.

“This satire on contemporary American popular culture is astonishingly reminiscent of American road novels of the 1960s and 1970s.”
—French Voices committee

 

Marylène Patou-Mathis
[MANGEURS DE VIANDE]
George Holoch, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Mangeurs de viande, Plon-Perrin, 2009)

Marylène Patou-Mathis, an authority on prehistory, explores the essential and fascinating position in human history of the hunting and consumption of meat. Hunting can still be seen as part of our cultural heritage in such practices as hunting for sport or watching bullfights.

“Its dispassionate historical approach is an extremely valuable counterpart to moral and ecological reflections”
—French Voices committee

 


2009

Daniel Arasse
TAKE A CLOSER LOOK
Alyson Waters, Tr.
Princeton University Press, 2013
(On n’y voit rien, Denoël, 2003)

Arasse shows us what it is to enter into the complexity of a work of art, visiting all of its dark corners, refuting supposed truths. Eschewing “artspeak” for a more readable style, he wages war on a proliferation of scholarly commentaries that render the works virtually invisible.

“An outstanding example of what is possible when the stiff formalities of scholarly prose are cast aside in favor of a more playful, imaginative approach.”
—Times Higher Education

 

Henri Atlan
THE SPARKS OF RANDOMNESS: SPERMATIC KNOWLEDGE
Lenn Schramm, Tr.
Stanford University Press, 2010, preface by Elie Wiesel
(Les étincelles de Hasard, Seuil, 1999, 2003)

Science and technology always bring us back to the human condition: knowledge, sexuality, aging, disease, and death. Taking inspiration from antiquity and from the rabbinical inquiries that led to the Talmud, Atlan founds a brand of ethics adapted to modern science’s power over life.

“[Atlan’s] approach to texts is original and stimulating, his ideas both lucid and insightful”
—Elie Wiesel

 

Christian Boltanski & Catherine Grenier
THE POSSIBLE LIFE OF CHRISTIAN BOLTANSKI
Marc Lowenthal, Tr.
Museum of Fine Arts Editions, 2009, preface by Luc Sante
(La Vie possible de Christian Boltanski, Seuil, 2007)

In a book-length interview, which the artist likens to a “psychoanalysis” or “confession,” Boltanski recounts his unusual wartime childhood, how he created various installations, and other stories that illuminate his complex, enigmatic works.

“Christian Boltanski’s […] own story is little-known. Any arts library specializing in modern artists will welcome this.”
—Midwest Book Review

 

Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud
A LIFE ON PAPER
Edward Gauvin, Tr.
Small Beer Press, 2010, preface by Brian Evenson
(from various French titles)

Châteaureynaud is France’s own Kurt Vonnegut. His stories are as familiar as they are fantastic. A Life on Paper presents characters who struggle to communicate across the boundaries of the living and the dead, the past and the present, the real and the more-than-real.

“Beautiful prose featuring ingenuous protagonists and clever, unexpected forays into horror are the hallmarks of these mischievous stories.”
—Publishers Weekly

 

Mathias Enard
ZONE
Charlotte Mandell, Tr.
Open Letter, 2010, preface by Brian Evenson
(Zone, Actes Sud, 2008)

In this novel written in a single sentence, a French-born Croat working for the French Intelligence Services is traveling by train to Rome, carrying a briefcase containing a wealth of information about the violent history of the Zone, to be sold to a representative from the Vatican.

“The 150,000-word sentence that makes up Énard’s erudite and ambitious novel is certainly an attempt to create a Flaubertian encyclopedia of our times at the end of a violent century.”
—The New York Times

 

Gilbert Gatore
THE PAST AHEAD
Marjolijn de Jager, Tr.
Indiana University Press, 2012
(Le Passé devant soi, Phébus, 2008)

During Rwanda’s civil war, Gatore kept a diary that was lost during his escape. He later attempted to recreate through fiction the impressions he recorded. The Past Ahead is the story of two lives after their experiences of genocide.

“[A] vibrant work of fiction that explores what it takes to make a monster out of a human being, and challenges the definition of survivor.”
—ForeWord

 

Pierre Guyotat
COMA
Noura Wedell, Tr.
Semiotext(e), 2010, preface by Gary Indiana
(Coma, Mercure de France, 2006)

Coma is the deeply moving, vivid portrayal of the artistic and spiritual crisis that wracked Guyotat in the 1980s, when he reached the physical limits of his search for a new language, entered a mental clinic, and fell into a coma brought on by self-imposed starvation.

“A text of great sensitivity to the world and to humanity. It’s an urgent, necessary publication […] Guyotat’s writing is literally stunning”
—Colin Herd, 3:AM Magazine

 

François Dosse
GILLES DELEUZE & FÉLIX GUATTARI: INTERSECTING LIVES
Deborah Glassman, Tr.
Columbia University Press, 2010
(Gilles Deleuze et Felix Guattari, La Découverte, 2007)

Dosse examines the prolific and improbable relationship between Deleuze, an established philosopher, and Guattari, a political militant, who collaborated on several groundbreaking works over twenty years.

“A glimpse into a remarkable period in French intellectual history. It is captivating.”
—Publishers Weekly

 

Jean-Marie Blas de Roblès
WHERE TIGERS ARE AT HOME
Edward Gauvin, Tr
(Là où les tigres sont chez eux, Zulma, 2008) Deckle Edge UK, The Other Press (Mike Mitchell, Tr., 2013)

When Eleazard begins editing a strange, unpublished biography of Kircher, the rest of his life begins to unravel. And Eleazard himself starts losing his sanity.

“Psychodrama meets history meets mystery – vintage Umberto Eco territory, as practiced by French philosophy professor turned novelist Blas de Roblès.”
—Kirkus Review

 

Emmanuelle Saada
EMPIRE’S CHILDREN: RACE, FILIATION, AND CITIZENSHIP IN THE FRENCH COLONIES
Arthur Goldhammer, Tr.
University of Chicago Press, 2012
(Les Enfants de la colonie, La Découverte, 2007)

For colonial rulers at the end of the 19th century, the métis threatened the legal and social distinctions on which colonial rule was based. Empire’s Children examines personal histories and the debates that affected them.

“A brilliant and deeply researched exploration of the place of race in the French citizenship experience.”
—Mary Dewhurst Lewis, Harvard University

 

Hédi Kaddour
TREASON
Marylin Hacker, Tr.
Yale University Press, 2010, preface by Marylin Hacker
(Jamais une ombre simple, Gallimard, 1994; Passage au Luxembourg, Gallimard, 2000)

Kaddour’s poetry arises from ordinary and emblematic situations in contemporary life, and blends several languages and literary traditions. His sonnet-shaped vignettes often include dialogues that turn his poems into miniature theater pieces. “Thoroughly delightful, Kaddour’s poetics offer readers proof of the transcendent qualities of literature.”
—Library Journal

 

Marie-Monique Robin
THE WORLD ACCORDING TO MONSANTO
George Holoch, Tr.,
The New Press, 2012, preface by Nicolas Hulot
(Le Monde selon Monsanto, La Découverte, 2008)

The result of a remarkable three-year-long investigation across four continents, this book is sure to change the way we think about food safety and the corporate control of our food supply.

“A vast investigation of Monsanto--the first of this scope to dismantle the malicious practices of the St. Louis-based agrochemical firm, world leader of GMO’s.”
—Télérama

 

Louis-Georges Tin
THE INVENTION OF HETEROSEXUAL CULTURE
Transedition LTD, Tr.
MIT Press, 2012
(L’Invention de la culture hétérosexuelle, Autrement, 2008)

In this study of the social, artistic, religious, medical, and political origins of heterosexual culture, Tin unveils a portrait of gender behavior in couples in the 12th century. He points to “homosocial” values as the basis for the nascent heterosexual culture.

“His ability to synthesize and to range widely sets Tin’s book apart from previous studies aimed at divesting heterosexuality of its magic and claims to universality.”
—Times Higher Education

 

Jean-Philippe Toussaint
RUNNING AWAY
Matthew B. Smith, Tr.
Dalkey Archive, 2009
(Fuir, Les Editions de Minuit, 2005)

A European man arrives in Shanghai, ostensibly on vacation. Yet a small task given him by his Parisian girlfriend Marie sets off a series of complications. The novel pulls the reader into a jet-lagged reality, a confusion of time and place.

“The effect, in terms of the prose, is quite hilarious – like a James Bond novel written by Beckett.”
—Tom McCarthy, The London Review of Books

 

Jean-Christophe Valtat
03
Mitzi Angel, Tr.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
(03, Gallimard, 2005)

A precocious teenager in a French suburb finds himself powerfully and troublingly drawn to the girl he sees every day on the way to school. As he watches her, his daydreams full of lyrics from Joy Division and the Smiths, fairy tales, sexual desire, loneliness, rage, and impatience to grow up reveal an entire adolescence.

“03 has the afternoon listlessness of adolescence. It is a risky and ambitious book.”
—The New Yorker

 


2008

Bruce Bégout
COMMON PLACE: THE AMERICAN MOTEL
Colin Keaveney, Tr.
Otis/Seismicity, 2010, preface by D.J.Waldie
(Lieu commun, Le Motel américain, Allia, 2003)

A legacy of the 20th century, the motel unknowingly foreshadowed a new type of urban existence. With it was born the society of permanent mobility and perpetual transit, a world of freeways and gas stations, travelling salesmen and seasonal migrations. In short, the itch to move.

“The American city is at the heart of Bégout’s research. A philosopher and a novelist, he makes it the object of his analysis and the disincarnated character of his novels and short stories.”
—Cartel

 

Geneviève Brisac
[LES SOEURS DÉLICATA]
J. A. Underwood, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Les Soeurs Délicata, L’Olivier, 2004)

This narrative about a family’s demise in the days leading up to Christmas is told from the point of view of one of the seven young Délicata sisters. Abandoned by their mother, they learn that their father is having an affair with their governess.

“Powerful writing in a condensed narrative.”
—French Voices committee

 

Père Patrick Desbois
THE HOLOCAUST BY BULLETS
Catherine Spencer, Tr.
Palgrave Macmillan, 2009 preface by Paul A. Shapiro
(Porteurs de Mémoire, Lafon, 2007)

In this heart-wrenching book, Desbois documents the daunting task of identifying and examining the sites where Jews were exterminated by Nazi mobile units in the Ukraine in WWII, with the goal of providing proper burials for the victims.

“An outstanding contribution to Holocaust literature. [It] should be on the shelves of even the smallest library.”
—Library Journal

 

Luc Lang
CRUELS TALES FROM THE THIRTEEN FLOOR
Donald Nicholson-Smith, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2015
(Cruels, 13, Stock, 2007)

In 15 fierce tales, Luc Lang captures the contemporary world and its everyday cruelty. The family, the couple, the workplace, neighbors, the city, and the road serve as characters and settings to a series of scathing short stories, and paint a tragic and comic fresco in which no one is spared.

“The author extraordinarily narrates our subterranean/hidden brutality.” —Télérama

 

Eric Laurrent
DO NOT TOUCH
Jeanine Herman, Tr.
Dalkey Archive, 2009
(Ne pas toucher, Les Editions de Minuit, 2002)

Clovis Baccara is entrusted with guarding French mafioso Oscar Lux’s new bride when Oscar is taken into police custody for embezzlement and racketeering on the day of his wedding. Alone with her, Clovis struggles to adhere to the one rule he has given himself: do not touch!

“Part of Laurrent’s talent lies in his ability to reinvent (or perhaps subvert) a commonplace theme by means of language as well as humor.”
—World Literature Today

 

Samir Kassir
BEIRUT
Malcolm Debevoise, Tr.
University of California Press, 2010, preface by Robert Fisk
(Histoire de Beyrouth, Fayard, 2003)

Offering a dazzling panorama of the city’s Seleucid, Roman, Arab, Ottoman, and French incarnations, Beirut takes the reader from the ancient to the modern world. This chronicle of a city at the crossroads of the Mediterranean is widely praised as the definitive history of Beirut.

“Beirut is a passionate tour de force, a love letter to that sparkling capital that takes us on a careening ride through its history...”
—Robert Dreyfuss, author of Devil’s Game

 

Abdellah Taïa
SALVATION ARMY
Frank Stock, Tr.
Semiotext(e), 2009, preface by Edmund White
(L’Armée du salut, Seuil, 2008)

This coming-of-age novel narrates the story of Taïa’s life with complete disclosure - from a childhood bound by family order and latent (homo) sexual tensions in the poor city of Salé, through an adolescence in Tangier, to his disappointing “arrival” in the Western world.

“Taïa has a captivating way of taking us into his confidence and telling us essential truths.”
—Edmund White

 


2007

Muriel Barbery
THE ELEGANCE OF THE HEDGEHOG
Alison Anderson, Tr.
Europa Editions, 2008
(L’Elégance du hérisson, Gallimard, 2006)

We are in the center of Paris, in an elegant apartment building inhabited by bourgeois families. The building’s concierge, Renée, and twelve-yearold tenant Paloma, hide their true talents and finest qualities from a world they suspect cannot or will not appreciate them.

“Tender and satirical in its overall tone, yet most absorbing because of its reflections on the nature of beauty and art, the meaning of life and death.”
—The Washington Post

 

Pierre Bayard
HOW TO TALK ABOUT BOOKS YOU HAVEN’T READ?
Jeffrey Mehlam, Tr.
Bloomsbury, 2007, preface by Francine Prose
(Comment parler des livres que l’on n’a pas lus?, Les Editions de Minuit, 2007)

Using examples from Greene, Wilde, Montaigne, Eco, and even the movie Groundhog Day, the literature professor and psychoanalyst describes various methods of “non-reading” and the sticky social situations that might require us to use them.

“It may well be that too many books are published, but by good fortune, not all must be read…A survivor’s guide to life in the chattering classes… evidently much in need.”
—The New York Times

 

René Belletto
CODA
Alyson Waters, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2011, preface by Stacey Levine
(Coda, P.O.L, 2005)

Belletto’s novel blends every genre he has worked in – thriller, science fiction, experimental literature, horror – into one breathless narrative in which nothing less than our own immortality is at stake.

“This madcap, metaphysical mystery ably fits perpetual motion machines, immortality, and blood-sacrifice sects into 88 brisk and brainy pages”.
—Publishers Weekly

 

Maurice Blanchot
POLITICAL WRITINGS, 1953–1993
Paul Zakir, Tr.
Fordham University Press, 2010, preface by Kevin Hart
(Ecrits Politiques, Léo Scheer, 2003)

These pieces by Maurice Blanchot, a towering yet enigmatic figure in French thought, form a testament to what political writing could be: not merely writing about politics or politicizing the written word, but transforming the singular authority of the writer and his signature.

“This selection of essays provides rich insights into the ways one of France’s leading writers interpreted and related to the political history of his country in the decades following the Second World War.”
—Samuel Weber, Avalon Foundation, Professor of Humanities at Northwestern University

 

Céline Curiol
VOICE OVER
Sam Richard, Tr.
Seven Stories, 2008, preface by Paul Auster
(Voix sans issue, Actes Sud, 2005)

A lonely young woman works as an announcer in Paris’ Gare du Nord, surrounded by people yet separate from them. Obsessed with a man who loves another, she suffers alone as she waits for him. She wanders the streets, playing on the edge of danger, seeking connection.

“Not only is it the finest first novel I have read in many years, but it is, quite simply, one of the most original and brilliantly executed works of fiction by any contemporary writer I know of.”
—Paul Auster

 

Marie Darrieussecq
[LE BÉBÉ]
Ann Kaiser, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Le Bébé, P.O.L, 2002)

In this seemingly simple account of the first six months of her child’s life, recorded in journal form, Darrieussecq invites us into the mother and child’s inner circle. She received the prestigious Medicis Prize in 2013.

“This is an enchanting text that stays with you. Moving, funny, thoughtful, and anything but superficial.”
—Madame Figaro

 

Annie Ernaux
THINGS SEEN
Jonathan Kaplansky, Tr.
University Of Nebraska Press, 2010 preface by Brian Evenson
(La Vie extérieure, Gallimard, 2000)

In this “journal,” Ernaux turns her penetrating focus on those points in life where the everyday and the extraordinary intersect, where “things seen” reflect private life meeting the larger world.

“Annie Ernaux’s work represents a severely pared-down Proustianism, a testament to the persistent, haunting and melancholy quality of memory.”
—The New York Times

 

Yasmina Khadra
COUSIN K
Alyson Waters, Donald Nicholson-Smith, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2013, afterword by Robert Polito
(Cousine K, Julliard, 2003)

With his father brutally killed as a traitor during a national liberation war and his older brother an army officer far away, the young narrator lives reclusively with his mother, who scorns him. He turns to his young cousin for affection, only to be mocked and humiliated so deeply that his love becomes hopelessly entangled with hatred.

“Cousin K is a highly polished psychological novel embodying an immense dose of mute violence. Khadra continues to address us in one of the very strongest voices emanating from North Africa today.”
—L’ Humanité

 

Frédéric Pajak
[LE CHAGRIN D’AMOUR]
Donald Nicholson-Smith, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2015
(Le Chagrin d’amour, PUF, 2000)

From the depths of World War I trenches, Guillaume Apollinaire sent more than 400 letters to Lou, an old flame, and Madeleine, his lover at the time. Pajak revives Apollinaire’s kaleidoscopic work, along with around 300 black-and-white line drawings, and establishes him as a forerunner of cubism, surrealism, and cinema.

“An intensely contemplative and obscure work, both enigmatic and whimsical.”
—Télérama

 

Jean Starobinski
ENCHANTMENT: THE SEDUCTRESS IN OPERA
C. Jon Delogu, Tr.
Columbia University Press 2008, preface by Victor Brombert
(Les Enchanteresses, Seuil, 2008)

We often look to the theater for spectacle and wonder, but in opera, we find pure enchantment. What is it about the marriage of music and the stage that fills us with such bewilderment and passion? How does the sensual space of opera transport us into the realm of dreams?

“Much of it opera addicts will find fascinating, some of it they will find illuminating, and all of it impressively erudite.”
—London Review of Books

 

Lyonel Trouillot
CHILDREN OF HEROES
Linda Coverdale, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2008
(Les Enfants des héros, Actes Sud, 2002)

The story of two Haitian children oppressed by the violence of their alcoholic father, Corazon, the silence of their subjugated mother, Josephine, the family’s poverty, and the crushing privations of their country.

“Trouillot writes with his heart on his sleeve . . . and his unabashed empathy for plucky Colin and brave, sexy Mariéla recalls elements of Dickens.”
—Publishers Weekly

 

Tanguy Viel
BEYOND SUSPICION
Linda Coverdale, Tr.
The New Press, 2009, preface by Jonathan Lethem
(Insoupçonnable, Les Editions De Minuit, 2007)

Set in the south of France where the stakes are high and no one is beyond suspicion, this Hitchcockian tale presents siblings and lovers in constantly shifting configurations.

“Reads like William Faulkner trying his hand at a story in the style of James M. Cain.”
—Kirkus Review

 


2006

André Comte-Sponville
THE LITTLE BOOK OF ATHEIST SPIRITUALITY
Nancy Huston, Tr.
Viking, 2007
(L’Esprit de l’athéisme, Albin Michel, 2006)

In this powerful book, André Comte-Sponville presents a philosophical exploration of atheism. Through his clear, concise, and often humorous prose, he offers a convincing treatise on a new form of spiritual life.

“A wonderful book . . . a generosity of spirit, communion and wisdom.”
—The Washington Post

 

Jean Echenoz
RAVEL
Linda Coverdale, Tr.
The New Press, 2011, preface by Adam Gopnik
(Ravel, Les Editions De Minuit, 2006)

A bestseller in France, Ravel is a beguiling and original evocation of the last ten years in the life of a musical genius, written by acclaimed novelist Jean Echenoz, winner of the Prix Goncourt.

“Rarely has the difficult craft of storytelling been as well mastered.”
—The Times Literary Supplement

 

Amin Maalouf
ORIGINS
Catherine Temerson, Tr.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010
(Origines, Grasset, 2004)

Origins recounts Amin Maalouf’s family history, beginning with the generation of his paternal grandfather. It is at once a gripping family chronicle and a timely consideration of Lebanese culture and politics.

“Maalouf’s novels recreate the thrill of childhood reading, that primitive mixture of learning about something unknown or unimagined.”
—Claire Messud, The Guardian

 

Léonora Miano
DARK HEART OF THE NIGHT
Tamsin Black, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2010
(L’Intérieur de la nuit, Plon, 2005)

What is Africa’s own “heart of darkness”? It is what confronts Ayané when, after three years abroad, she returns to the Central African village of her birth. This first novel received the Prix du Premier Roman de Femme and Miano the Prix Fémina in 2013.

“In a style that is beautifully controlled and shows no trace of exoticism, Léonora Miano plunges her readers agonizingly into the mysteries of Africa: rebellions, coups d’état, archaic sacrifices, and battles between clans.”
—Josyane Savigneau, Le Monde des Livres

 

Véronique Ovaldé
KICK THE ANIMAL OUT
Adriana Hunter, Tr.
MacAdam/Cage, 2007, preface by Siri Hustvedt
(Déloger l’animal, Actes Sud, 2005)

Unable to cope with having been abandoned by her glamorous mother, fifteen-year-old Rose uses her vivid imagination to construct her own explanation for her sudden disappearance.

“Ovaldé’s sumptuous settings – a sun-struck seaside resort, and the snowbound mountains beyond – give a radiant frame to this story of immeasurable loss.”
—The Independent

 

Abdourahman A. Waberi
IN THE UNITED STATES OF AFRICA
David and Nicole Ball, Tr.
University of Nebraska Press, 2009, preface by Percival Everett
(Aux Etats-Unis d’Afrique, J-C Lattès, 2005)

In a literary reversal as deadly serious as it is wickedly satiric, the acclaimed writer turns the fortunes of the world upside down. In his reimagined world, a stream of sorry humanity flows from the West to escape poverty and desperation, towards the prosperous United States of Africa.

“Waberi wittily destroys a whole series of clichés and prejudices about immigration, and reveals the unhealthy side of humanitarian aid organizations draped in arrogance.”
—Le Monde diplomatique

 

Malika Zeghal
ISLAMISM IN MOROCCO
George A. Holoch Jr, Tr.
Markus Wiener, 2008
(Les Islamistes marocains, La Découverte, 2005)

Zeghal analyzes the historical roots and recent evolution of Moroccan Islamist movements in the context of a new political system combining pluralistic electoral competition with authoritarian government. She provides an original take on the prospects for the democratization of an Arab country.

“Extremely rigorous and lucid, this book by Malika Zeghal, who is also the author of a work of reference on Egypt, includes a comparative dimension that makes her analysis of Morocco even more enlightening.”
—Olivier Mongin, Esprit

 


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NEW YORK, NY 10075

For further information, please contact:
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