THE MEDITERRANEAN WALL
Tr. by Marjolijn de Jager, Schaffner Press, Inc.
(Mur Méditerrannée, Sabine Wespieser)
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.
AFFLUENCE AND FREEDOM
Tr. by Andrew Brown, Polity Books
(Abondance et liberté, La Découverte)
In this pioneering genealogy of Western philosophical thought,Pierre Charbonnier charts the development of the concepts of affluence and liberty, and considers them in conjunction with the past and present-day realities of climate change, biodiversity loss and ecological instability. Abundance and liberty were once the incentives offered by 19th century industrialists disseminating a social imaginary of ‘the good life’, but it is becoming apparent that they can no longer be sought in the same places. Retracing the relation between capitalism, economic growth and “nature”, Charbonnier takes us from a moment when “emancipation from nature” was considered sine qua non, to our contemporary period when infinite economic growth finds its limits in ecological disaster. In this seminal work, Charbonnier poses challenging questions to the readers: how are we to configure a historical and humanist response to environmental collapse? Can we reorient the idea of freedom towards a new ethos of sufficiency and global justice? This uniquely interdisciplinary project is a book for our times.
[LA REPONSE A LORD CHANDOS]
Tr. Stéphanie Boulard and Timothy Lavenz, Seeking an American Publisher
(La réponse à Lord Chandos, Éditions Galilée)
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]
Tr. by Emma Ramadan and Thomas Roberge, Verso Books forthcoming in Spring 2022,
(Pour elles toutes : Femmes contre la prison, Éditions Lux)
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
Tr. by Troy Tice, Oxford University Press, March 2022
(La Ruée vers le sable, Éditions de la Sorbonne)
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.
LIVING IN DEATH: GENOCIDE AND ITS FUNCTIONARIES
Tr. by Lindsay Turner, Fordham University Press, 2021
(La vie ordinaire des génocidaires, CNRS Editions)
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 IMPERATIF POLITIQUE]
Tr. by Adam Hocker, Fordham University Press, December 2021
(« Il faut s’adapter » : Sur un nouvel impératif politique, Éditions Gallimard)
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.
Tr. by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Open Letter, December 2021
(Black Village, Verdier)
Brought together by fate, a trio of characters stumble through a world of absolute darkness, with no way to tell where they’re going, what lies ahead, or how much longer they might endure this fate. The only faint glow they manage to obtain comes from the low-grade fuel produced by the skin of the hand of one of the three characters. Their world seems to exist in the wake of ‘the disaster’, an apocalypse resulting from a war between capitalists and communists. To pass the time and give themselves some sense of continuity, they tell stories. Bassmann (aka Antoine Volodine) makes the 30 snippet stories absorbing and creates a reading experience that gets under the skin. The post-exotic novel with overtones of Beckett, Stanislaw Lem, Pynchon, and Tarkovsky’s Stalker, conveys a strong and affecting mood.
THE UNGOVERNABLE SOCIETY: A GENEALOGY OF AUTHORITARIAN LIBERALISM
Tr. by Andrew Brown, Polity Press, 2021
(La Société ingouvernable, La Fabrique)
This original account sketches a genealogy of the opposition between market and state operations and institutions against a background of increasing societal unrest. Grégoire Chamayou develops an understanding of “authoritarian liberalism” through discourses and practices of “private governance”. With material emanating primarily from those at the top of the corporate world–theorists of management and the economy, industry publications, speeches of CEOs–and to a lesser extent from those at the bottom–workers, militants, activists–the philosopher argues that a new form of liberalism emerged from the 1950s to the 1980s, which combined features of political authoritarianism with the promotion of a free market. This far-ranging study makes the case for the importance of studying the private sector in order to properly understand the nature of political reality and addresses many of the fears held today by many regarding our global political future.
Laurent de Stutter
Tr. by Barnaby Norman, Polity Press, 2020
(Après la loi, PUF/Humensis)
In this bold and original philosophical reflection on the distinction between Law and Rights, Laurent De Stutter interrogates the norm of legality across a wide range of contexts (Ancient Greek, Babylonian, Arab, Chinese, Indian, Egyptian, and Hebraic) and offers insightful reflections on the concepts. As the hold of Western law on global conceptions of the norm is ebbing, De Stutter develops an argument which focuses on what happens ‘after the law’. This pleasant read with a snapshot quality to it stresses the vital necessity of the Law to protect the (human) “being” in both Western and Eastern cultures and praises it as a remedy against chaos and the dissolution of the being. Bringing together law, history and literature in an engaging and erudite way, the distinctions and categories made by the author prove to be wonderful food for thought.
[L’INVENTION DES CORPS]
Tr. by Margaret Morrison, Seeking an American Publisher
(L’Invention des corps, Actes Sud)
This ambitious novel follows Álvaro, a young Mexican teacher and hacker, on the run from an Army massacre of his students. He crosses into the US illegally and falls into the hands of a Silicon Valley billionaire determined to cheat death by performing transhuman experiments. Eventually fleeing with a brilliant geneticist, they discover a new community, and a new way of being themselves. The road trip narrative deals with many current topics which are crucial for our human future. It takes on a number of important contemporary concerns: artificial intelligence, the use and abuse of the natural order, and the question of elites who may or may not be secretly ruling the world. L’Invention des corps combines some fantastic writing and gripping plots. It received the Prix de Flore in 2017.
For more information about this title, you may also contact Nathalie Alliel at Actes Sud.
THE WHITE DRESS
Tr. by Natasha Lehrer, Dorothy, A Publishing Project
(La Robe blanche, P.O.L)
In 2008, the Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca hitchhiked around Europe in a white wedding dress as a messenger of peace. In April of that year, she was found murdered in Turkey. Nathalie Léger writes succinctly and effectively about the importance of the gesture, and the mythology of the white dress. She refers to Ms. Bacca, but also to other women performance artists, to the public’s reaction to their performances and to their reception by critics and journalists. While she expresses sympathy for the artists’ endeavours, she also wonders, at times, about their naiveté. Léger is succinct and sensitive to the meaning of the performances she recalls, connecting them to the history of the reception of women who make artistic and social gestures. This touching work speaks to particular events within European culture all while addressing the broader social movement that reflects women’s consciousness.
[TROP NOIRE POUR ETRE FRANCAISE]
Joshua Jordan, Seeking an American publisher – please contact Alice Tassel for further information
(Trope Noire pour être Française, Tallandier, 2017)
Isabelle Boni-Claverie offers an American readership rare insights into the differences and similarities of racial dynamics in her own country and the US. At once a sociological portrait of France, a multiracial family album, and a transatlantic bildungsroman, Too Black to Be French will undoubtedly appeal to readers eager for a passionate fresh voice devoted to better understanding today’s world, and how race and class both are inescapable realities in contemporary societies.
Isabelle Boni-Claverie sensitively leads us to ponder our relationship with alterity. At once funny, moving and uncompromising Bonie Claverie’s book ends on a happy notes as it engages us to bet on real equality.—senscritique.com
Jeffrey Zuckerman Tr., Restless Book
(Pina, Au Vent des Îles, 2016)
In Pina, the Tahitian author Titaua Peu draws the portrait of a modern-day Polynesia torn asunder by misery and the differences that separate people from one another. By shedding light on the many kinds of violence—moral, familial, sexual, social—on the other side of glossy postcard photos, Pina shows how a young girl struggles to find her way out of abuse and despair and into a promising future.
“The novelist seizes the reader with her fiery prose, serving her whirlwind story about the crossing paths of many different characters.”—Télérama
Working from family archives, Cixous tells the story of her uncle André, a German Jew, who died at Auschwitz. In 1938, he had tried to emigrate from Berlin to join his daughter and other family members in Jerusalem, only to be sent back upon his arrival by his daughter, telling him, “this is a young country for young people.” Cixous’s treatment is in many ways literary—interwoven, at moments, with King Lear—but the book is ultimately a close reading of the archival materials she was able to piece together.
“[…] an act of imagination, investigation, sojourn, and witness driven by terrible necessity and marbled with fierce, incomparable beauty.”–Maggie Nelson, author of The Argonauts
THE LIVING DAYS
Jeffrey Zuckerman Tr., Feminist Press, 2019
(Les Jours vivants, Gallimard, 2013)
On Portobello Road, an old woman, Mary Grimes, clings to her final days, and particularly the memory of Howard, her long-lost youthful love. She retreats increasingly inward, isolating herself within her home and her mind. A chance encounter with Cub, a young boy from Brixton, unexpectedly jolts her back into the world of the living.
In this timely novel, Ananda Devi continues her exploration of mythical places and haunted beings.
“Brutal and entirely believable, a gorgeous and haunting depiction of London and the real lives and memories of those unseen within it.”—Publishers Weekly
MY PART OF HER
Emma Ramadan Tr., Restless Books, 2020
(Ma part d’elle, Gallimard, 2017)
In exiled Iranian author Javad Djavahery’s captivating English debut, a youthful betrayal during a summer on the Caspian sea has far-reaching consequences for a group of friends as their lives are irrevocably altered by the Revolution. Urgent and gorgeously written, My Part of Her captures the innocence of youth, the folly of love, and the capriciousness of fate as these friends find themselves on opposing sides of the seismic rifts of history. ***we could send back to the author on tour page if we publish it in time***
“Djavahery’s novel is an aching evocation of paradise lost, one that is impossible to regain, even in our narrator’s searching dreams. Vivid, shattering, and utterly memorable.”—Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review
[LES OEUVRES DE MISERICORDE]
Jeffrey Zuckerman Tr., Seeking an American publisher – please contact Colette Olive for further information
(Les Oeuvres de miséricorde, Verdier, 2012)
Determined to investigate both the tension-fraught history of the relationship between France and Germany and, more broadly, the timeless relationship between violence and mercy, Riboulet’s narrator finds answers to these questions not in a documentary or testimonial, but in physical bodies, desired and touched, painted and filmed. The winner of the Prix Décembre and a finalist for the Prix Sade, Les Oeuvres de miséricorde is a contemporary masterpiece, a labor of love that unflinchingly depicts mercy and the men who strive for it.
“What should we do with all those who have died? Where should we live? How should we love each other?” These obsessions, fueled by the ravages of history, are just as strong as Riboulet’s fascination with Caravaggio; in this thrilling book, rustling with violence and love, he attempts to respond to these questions.”— L’Express
Daria Chernysheva Tr. Seeking an American publisher. Please contact Vibeke Madsen)
(Double nationalité, P.O.L, 2016)
A woman awakes at Roissy airport, bereft of any memory of her past. Piecing her life together, she uncovers a dual belonging, one to France and one to the imagined country Yazigie, a pastiche of a former Eastern bloc republic. The protagonist’s reconstruction of her life serves as a platform for a cunning exploration of identity and modern Europe.
“It is her captivating way of examining words, her amazing sense of narrative allied with a rare freedom of tone – lighthearted prose can be the vehicle for a ferocious message (this is summarizing but I think it gets the idea across).”—Elle
Chris Andrews Tr., New Directions Publishing, 2020
Our Riches celebrates quixotic devotion and passion for books in the person of Edmond Charlot, who at the age of twenty founded Les Vraies Richesses (Our True Wealth), the famous Algerian bookstore/publishing house/lending library. Cutting brilliantly from characters Charlot to Ryad, from the 1930s to the modern day, from WWII to the bloody 1961 Free Algeria demonstrations in Paris, Adimi delicately packs a monumental history of intense political drama into her swift and poignant novel. But most of all, it’s a love song to books.
“An understated, lyrical story of reading and resistance over the tumultuous generations.”—Kirkus Reviews (Starred)
La France des Belhoumi
Juliette Rogers Tr., Seeking an American publisher – please contact Delphine Ribouchon for further information)
(Editions La Découverte, 2018)
Inspired by the story of three Algerian sisters whom he met at one of his lectures, sociologist Stéphane Beaud’s La France des Belhoumi conducted an inquiry over several years. The essay unknots the yarns of a complex plot, relating working-class transformations, scholarly destinies of children of poor immigrant backgrounds, and the socio-urban changes on the outskirts of major cities.
“This multi-voiced biography, whose originality relies on its collective characteristics and the singular reflexivity of each tale, shows different integration processes being completed.”—France Culture
Narrated in seven voices over four days, the novel charts the effect of an unforeseen birth on those intimately involved. Innovative in form and a compelling read, Tombée des nues addresses the much-debated issues around motherhood, pondering whether the maternal instinct is innate; and exploring two of today’s major taboos for women: not wanting children, and struggling to bond with her baby.
“We leave these pages with the sensation of being richer in humanity, as after (this is fine) living an uncommon experience.”—Corinne Renou-Nativel, La Croix
Sophia Barry Tr., Seeking an American publisher – please contact Sylvian Coissard for further information
(Catharsis, Futuropolis, 2015)
Catharsis outlines Luz’s trials and tribulations in processing and overcoming his grief following the 2015 terrorist attack at the magazine Charlie Hebdo that claimed 12 lives, 8 of whom were employees and close friends of Luz. Through Catharsis, we accompany Luz through the raw, messy, confusing journey of suffering, life, and love post-tragedy.
“In these untitled comic books, Luz self-analyzes and delivers a poignant testimony of the fatal day, and those coming after.”—Libération
Staging Civilization: A Transnational History of French Theater in Eighteenth-Century Europe,
Tr. by Jane Marie Todd, University of Virginia Press, 2020
(Civiliser l’Europe: Politiques du théâtre francais au XVIIIe siècle Fayard, 2014)
What is cultural domination on the international scene? Forget about Hollywood and the American way of life – in the eighteenth century, France was the dominant cultural power in Europe. Or was it? Rahul Markovits’s book offers a new take on this phenomenon, and it does so by considering the emblematic case of the theatre.
“Civilization and culture, Gallicisation and acculturation, hard power and soft power, […] cultural imperialism and rhetoric of freedom, […] these are the many notions that Markovits’ study on the European peregrinations of 18th-century French theatre invite us to reexplore.” —journals.openedition.org
Hervé Le Corre
In the Shadow of the Fire
Tina Kover, Tr., Europa Editions, 2020
(Dans l’ombre du brasier, Payot & Rivages, 2019)
The “bloody week” of the Commune of Paris in 1871 represents/serves as the savage climax of the confrontations between Communards and the people of Versailles. Among the shells and the chaos, a photographer, fascinated by the pain of young women, takes “suggestive” pictures to be sold to select clientele. One day, a couple’s daughter disappears, fostering (this word has a positive connotation, maybe try “spurring” instead) a race against time to find her.
“The modernity of this historical novel relies on the drama echoing other times. In Hervé Le Corre’s vibrant style, the battles of the Commune of Paris reflects others (Stalingrad, Sarajevo, Homs).”—Le Monde
Lara Vergnaud Tr, Restless Books, Oct 2021
(Sciences de la vie, Seuil)
Ninon Moise is the final link in a cursed family chain: since the Middle Ages, the female members of her family have been afflicted with a bizarre and incurable illness, which manifests itself differently each generation. Now, seventeen-year-old Ninon, captivated as a child by tales of rare maladies, seeks to break the cycle. She turns to science to heal her ailment and take charge of her own destiny. With a distinctive style that has been dubbed “docu-fiction,” Sorman blends history and fiction to explore the evolution—and changing perception—of disease. This odyssey through the strangest annals of medical history, led by a series of vivid heroines, questions our relationship to the body, notions of transmission, and the female condition.
“The elegant simplicity of the sentences, the fluidity of the book as a whole, the acuity and the imagination of Sorman’s perspective brings a singular charm to this text, all the way to the end.”–Michel Abescat, Télérama
The Unconstructable Earth: An Ecology of Separation
Drew S. Burk Tr., Fordham University Press, 2018
(La Part inconstructible de la Terre. Critique du géo-constructivisme, Seuil, 2016)
Frédéric Neyrat brings us to the heart of constructivist thought that today dominates the social sciences. He calls into question the divide between nature and culture, critiquing the myth of nondistinction between nature and all-powerful technology and proposing a new philosophy of nature and the Earth: an ecology of separation that acknowledges the wild, subtractive capacity of nature, noting what in nature is unsubstitutable and recognizing Earth in its singularity.
“The concept of ecoconstructivism offers readers a way to step back from the downward spiral of some current ecological thought.”
–Leila Chakroun and Clémence Guimont, Cairn
The Artist as Economist: Art and Capitalism in the 1960s
Malcolm DeBevoise Tr., Yale University Press, 2019
(The Artist as Economist: Art and Capitalism in the 1960s, Les Presses du réel)
Through the lens of artworks that take economics as a theme, Cras demonstrates that artist from Yves Klein, Andy Warhol and Larry Rivers to Dennis Oppenheim and Marcel Broodthaers were acute observers of the economy of their times and bore witness to the evolution of capitalism during the 1960s. During the Cold War, capitalism was not only a set of economic, institutional and political choices, but also a combination of sometimes complementary, sometimes conflicting representations. It had a visual dimension that artists from diverse geographic, ideological and aesthetic backgrounds seized, transformed, and created. In doing so, they contributed to the critique, reshaping and at times reinforcing the “spirit of capitalism.”
“This attention to the knowing intersection of art and commerce makes for a valuable sideline to conventional art history.”
Vice, Crime, and Poverty: How the Western Imagination invented the Underworld
Susan Emanuel Tr., Columbia University Press
(Les Bas-fonds : Histoire d’un imaginaire, Seuil, 2013)
Paupers, beggars, prostitutes, criminals, madmen, and convicts—part reality and part fantasy, they populate the underworld, the dark inverse of our everyday world. Skulking in the mirror we hold up to our society, they are our counterparts and our doubles, simultaneously repelling us and offering the promise of escape. Dedicated to the exploration of this imaginary world, Vice, Crime and Poverty evokes the construction of a world that reflects our fears as well as our desires and has fascinated us without cease.
“Misery, vice and crime: the three horsemen of the social apocalypse.”
–Antoine de Baecque, Le Monde
*This book was selected for an award in 2016, but has entered the French Voices collection with a brand-new translation.
Emma Ramadan, Tom Roberge, Restless Books, 2019
(Le Garçon, Zulma, 2016)
The titular character has no name and does not speak. His knowledge of the world is limited to his mother and the countryside around the cabin of his childhood. After his mother dies, the boy encounters people beyond his remote hamlet for the first time, and through them he begins to glimpse what constitutes “the stuff of life”: an ogre introduces him to the history of France, and he soon discovers the arts and bourgeous society, eventually moving to Paris. When war comes, his world is once again torn apart, and he must learn again how to exist in society and live beyond simple survival.
’Bildungsroman’ for some, ‘epic saga’ or ‘historical account’ for others, Garçon traces, in sumptuous language, the disconcerting story of a wild child who, at the age of 14, is abruptly brought into the world and the company of men.”–Elena Scappaticci, Le Figaro
Luc Boltanski and Arnaud Esquerre
Enrichment: A Critique of Commodities
Catherine Porter Tr., Polity Press, 2020
(Enrichissement, Gallimard, 2017)
This book sees one of France’s foremost sociologists in collaboration with a rising star in the field. Together, they develop a groundbreaking new theory of how modern capitalism has been transformed by culture. Drawing on a wide range of cultural forms—the arts, the antiques trade, museums, heritage sites, the luxury goods industry and tourism—Boltanski and Esquerre show that value is always created the same way: through exploitation of the past. The authors call this altered economic landscape an “economy of enrichment,” one based less on the production of new things than on enriching things that already exist, primarily benefitting the very wealthy, who turn these things into a source of further enrichment. Boltanski and Esquerre develop this idea to show that any analysis of economic transformation is inseparable from an analysis of the way that value is attributed to commodities.
“A capital book…Enrichissement does job excellent, to say the least, of laying out some of the basic principles at work in the economic paradigm we are living in today.”–French Voices committee
Andrew Brow Tr., Polity
(Mediarchie, Seuil 2017)
In this ambitious book, renowned theorist Yves Citton brings the many elements of media theory together to provide a radical new perspective on how politics operates today. Citton’s distinctive argument is that political theory has overlooked the fact that power is always, in one way or another, mediated. In the synchronized actions of publics and crowds, Citton shows that the way people act is coordinated or connected, and that power does not exist separate from this process, but rather arises directly from it: power is exercised by capturing our attention in the midst of a cacophonous media environment, and in order to regain individual control, we must resist habitual impulses in favor of delay, becoming aware of media hierarchies in order to bypass them.
“More than a simple critique of the media, [Citton] develops an archeology that seeks to reopen the political imagination to transform the rules.”–Jean-Marie Durand, Les Inrockuptibles
The Philosophers’ Gift: Reexamining Reciprocity
Jean-Louis Morhange Tr., Fordham University Press
(Le Don des Philosophes : Repenser la réciprocité, Seuil)
For philosophers, every form of reciprocity is tainted by commercial exchange. In recent decades, thinkers such as Derrida, Levinas, Henry, Marion, Ricoeur, Lefort, and Descombes have explicitly examined the gift, often as a phenomenological reflection on the world as “given” but intrinsically bound to disinterestedness. An anthropologist as well as a philosopher, Hénaff worries that philosophy has failed to distinguish the various types of giving. In this context, he shows that reciprocity, rather than disinterestedness, is central to ceremonial giving and alliance, in which the social bond unique to humans becomes a political one. From a social analysis of gift practices, Hénaff reevaluates what the philosophical tradition concerning the gift has to offer us.
“[Le Don des philosophes] is a beautiful bringing-together of the canonical voices in anthropology and philosophy around the questions of giving and also to a certain extent apology.”–French Voices Committee
Hervé Le Tellier
All Happy Families
Adriana Hunter Tr., Other Press, 2019
(Toutes les familles heureuses, JC Lattès, 2017)
Hervé Le Tellier did not consider himself to have been an unhappy child–he was not beaten, deprived, or abused. Yet he understood from a young age that something was wrong. He wanted to leave, and in fact did leave. Sometimes, children have only the option of escaping, and owe their greater love of life to that escape. Having reached a certain emotional distance at sixty years old, and with his father and stepfather dead and his mother suffering from late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, Le Tellier finally felt able to write the story of his family. Abandoned early by his father and raised in part by his grandparents, he was profoundly affected by his relationship with his mother, a troubled woman with damaging views on love. In this perceptive, deeply personal account, Le Tellier attempts to look back on trying times in his life without anger or regret, and even with a touch of humor.
“You leave this reading touched and moved, with the desire to reflect on laughter and sadness, on the possibilities to get out of tough situations, on the human being’s capacity to bounce back, to develop despite their parents. And the desire to love their loved ones even more.”–Ouest France
EDOUARD GLISSANT, PHILOSOPHER: HERACLITUS AND HEGEL IN THE WHOLE-WORLD
Andrew Brown Tr., SUNY Press forthcoming 2021
(Edouard Glissant, philosophe : Heraclite, Hegel et le Tout Monde, Hermann, 2016)
This book is based on the reflection that Edouard Glissant diligently and persistently pursued an entirely original and groundbreaking critical approach in regard to European philosophy. “Another” Glissant appears, present from the very beginning of his oeuvre until its end; this one subverts the philosophical tradition in order to extract wholly unheard-of ideas from it: Whole-World, Relation, and Creolization. The coherence of Glissant’s thought then manifests itself, contradicting the stereotype of a work deemed “obscure” or “difficult.” Glissant must be read not only as a great writer, but also as one who radically renewed old questions of philosophy through a medium practiced by Heraclitus and banished by Plato: poetry.
“At the heart of his book, as if he is unwinding Ariadne’s thread, Leupin shows with precision that Glissant’s “unclassifiable” work, in dialogue with Western thought, overtakes philosophy.”
–Aliocha Wald Lasowski, Art press
*This book was selected for an award in 2017, but is now entering the French Voices collection with a brand-new translation.
Seloua Luste Boulbina
KAFKA’S MONKEY AND OTHER PHANTOMS OF AFRICA
Lara Hengehold Tr., Indiana University Press, 2019
(L’Afrique et ses fantômes : Ecrire l’après, Présence Africaine, 2015)
Though many of France’s former colonies achieved independence more than half a century ago, the concept of “colony” and parties affected by colonialism remain problematic in French culture today. Seloua Luste Boulbina, an Algerian-French philosopher and political theorist, draws on Foucault, Rancière, and Deleuze as well as Fanon, Said, Spivak, and Glissant to ask how philosophy can ensure that the embodied subjectivity of formerly colonized peoples is represented in the human sciences. Moving between academic and personal voices, Kafka’s Monkey shows how decolonization silently leaves emotional scars that can only be interpreted if literature, history, anthropology, and psychiatry are themselves transformed.
“Seloua Luste Boulbina’s analyses are seething with insight, brilliant in their tone, and way way beyond what ‘postcolonial studies’ imagines it needs to do. She assaults the reader with a series of pricks to the skin and conscience that are too obvious and evident and unseen and unnoticed until she shows them to us.”–Laura Ann Stoler, author of Duress: Imperial Durabilities in Our Times
BAKHITA: A NOVEL OF THE SAINT OF SUDAN
Adriana Hunter Tr., Other Press
(Bakhita, Albin Michel, 2017)
She recalls little of her childhood, not even her own name. She was barely seven years old when she was snatched by slave-raiders from her village in the Darfur region of Southern Sudan. Sold and resold along the slave trade routes, Bakhita endures years of unspeakable abuse and terror. At age thirteen, at last, her life takes a different turn when the Italian consul in Khartoum purchases her. A few years later, as chaos engulfs the capital, the consul returns to Italy, taking Bakhita with him. In this new land, another long and arduous journey begins–one that leads her onto a spiritual path for which she is still revered today. In Italy, Bakhita may no longer be chained and battered but she is not yet free. She is still at the mercy of her patrons’ whims, and subjected to a new form of violence: as an African woman, she provokes fear and repulsion everywhere she goes. It takes a trial in Venice for Bakhita to officially gain freedom, and she eventually enters the order of the Canossian Sisters, where she devotes her life to poor and orphaned children throughout the turmoil of two World Wars and Mussolini’s fascist reign.
“Intimate in tone, epic in scope, Bakhita tells the moving story of one woman’s trajectory from bondage to faith and healing.”–Mitchell James Kaplan, author of By Fire, By Water
[CONFESSIONS D’UN HOMOSEXUEL A EMILE ZOLA]
William A. Peniston and Nancy Erber Tr., Harrington Park Press, forthcoming
(Confessions d’un homosexuel à Emile Zola, Nouvelles Éditions Place, 2017)
Following the discovery of one of the original letters from an anonymous Italian aristocrat to Emile Zola, Confessions d’un homosexuel à Émile Zola is the first unexpurgated edition of this famous autobiography, originally entitled Le Roman d’un inverti and Suite du Roman d’un inverti. The French edition contains original analytical essays by two leading scholars (Michael Rosenfeld and Clive Thomson), which will be adapted for the English-language edition, along with the original analysis by the doctor who first published his work in 1896 with revisions in 1910 and 1930.
“[Confessions d’un homosexuel à Émile Zola] is remarkable and admirable for many reasons… [the author’s] French, stylistically, is beautiful—rich, self-effacing, stunning—revealing a lost world that will be of great interest to modern readers as literature.”–French Voices Committee
Drew Burk and Sarah Jones-Boardman Tr., University of Minnesota Press, 2020
(Afrotopia, Éditions Philippe Rey, 2016)
Africa’s status as humanity’s older sister requires that it not participate in the irresponsible race that endangers social and natural conditions: the competition between nations to see who can accumulate the most riches. Africa’s only urgency is to be at the height of its potential. In thirty-five years, the population of Africa will represent a quarter of the world’s, and a demographic weight and vitality will tip the social, economic, and cultural scales. To embrace this locomotive force, Africa must build a civilization that is more conscious, more concerned with the equilibrium between different orders, the common good, and dignity. Afrotopia is an act of faith in this active utopia: an Africa that will help bring humanity to a new level.
“Facing a capitalist system that seems to have reached its limits, Felwine Sarr proposes that Africa finally appears as an alternative, rather than an eternal inferior.”
–Catherine Calvet, Libération
OU EN SOMMES-NOUS ?
Andrew Brown Tr., Polity Press
(Où en sommes nous ? Seuil, 2017)
Emmanuel Todd’s magnum opus, Où en sommes-nous ? offers a major reinterpretation of the history of humanity, from the emergence of Homo sapiens to the present. Drawing on his training as a historical demographer, Todd reads the history of humanity through the lens of the long-term dynamics of family systems and the way in which they intersect with religion and ideology. Ultimately, he argues that underlying family structures are the key to understanding history and social change. This enables him to shed new light on the great shifts and divergences that have emerged today, from the revolt of the silent majority that led to the rise of Trump and to Brexit, to Russia’s return to the world stage under Putin and the recent political transformations across Europe.
“This is a book of big ideas presented in a straightforward and compelling way. It exhibits staggering fluency across many disciplines, and demands to be read in English.”
–French Voices Committee
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr
Alexia Trigo, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Terre Ceinte, Présence Africaine, 2014)
In Kalep, as an Islamist government spreads its brutal authority, two young people are executed for having loved each other. Resistance fighters try to rise up against this new world order by publishing an underground newspaper. The ensuing conflict between a police leader and his opponents will lead them all to merciless violence… But life always demands its rightful place.
“A magnificent book that transports us into the hearts and souls of a small Sahelain town’s inhabitants…A writer is born, a young, promising talent who is absolutely one to watch”
–Catherine Morand, Le Monde
Mohamed Mbougar Sarr was born in Dakar in Senegal in 1990. He is the eldest of seven brothers and the son of a doctor. He grew up in Diourbel and completed his secondary school at the Prytanée Military of Saint-Louis in Senegal. He then came to France to complete his preparatory classes at the lycée Pierre d’Ailly in Compiègne and then at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS). His first novel, Terre Ceinte, was awarded in 2015 the Ahmadou Kourouma prize as well as the Grand Prix du roman métis of Saint-Denis-de-la-Réunion. He is also the author of a short story entitled La Cale which was awarded the Stéphane-Hessel prize in 2014.
Alexia Trigo grew up speaking French, English, and Spanish fluently. This sparked her passion for languages and translation, which she then pursued at Barnard College where she received a minor in Translation Studies and a major in Philosophy. Her passion for both these subjects meant she took great interest in the study of the theory of translation and its philosophical underpinnings, something which allowed her to become better at the act of translating itself. She is now in the process of completing her Masters in Philosophy at Columbia University, where her interests lie mainly in the Philosophy of Mind, 20th century French Philosophy, and Bioethics.
[TITUS DID NOT LOVE BERENICE]
Ruth Diver, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Titus n’aimait pas Bérénice, P.O.L, 2015)
Titus Did Not Love Berenice is an uplifting story of how a modern-day woman finds solace from an unhappy love affair by reading the plays of France’s greatest neo-classical tragedian, Jean Racine. She goes on to discover how this bourgeois orphan from the provinces created a new literary language and rose to power in the court of Louis XIV, and how he was able to describe women’s love and desire so poignantly in his plays.
“Nathalie Azoulai demonstrates the impressive modernity of the classics with remarkable sensibility.”–Fabienne Pascaud, Télérama
GARDENS ON PAPER: A STROLL THROUGH FRENCH LITERATURE
Teresa Lavender Fagan, Tr., University of Virginia Press, 2018
(Jardins de papier : de Rousseau à Modiano, Stock, 2015)
From Rousseau to Proust, from Marguerite Duras to George Sand, from Colette to Modiano, gardens appear in novels as representations of the real world, but also as reflections of the imagination. Évelyne Bloch-Dano contemplates the role of the garden in the work of great prose writers, contemplating how the garden can variously symbolize a reflection of the soul, a well-earned rest, an improving form of work, a nostalgia for childhood, and the dream of an ideal world.
“Évelyne Bloch-Dano relates with much empathy what gardens, whether real or on paper, reveal of writers’ imaginations.”–Françoise Dargent, Le Figaro
Damien Boquet & Nagy Piroska
MEDIEVAL SENSIBILITIES: A HISTORY OF EMOTIONS IN THE MIDDLE AGES
Robert Shaw, Tr., Polity Press, 2018
(Sensible Moyen Âge. Une histoire des émotions dans l’Occident médiéval, Seuil, 2015)
Historians Damien Boquet and Piroska Nagy delve into a rich variety of texts and images to reveal the many and nuanced experiences of emotion during the Middle Ages. From the demonstrative shame of a saint to a nobleman’s fear of embarrassment, from friendship among monks to suffering in imitation of Christ, from the enthusiasm of a crusading band to the fear of a town threatened by the approach of war or plague, the examples are countless.
“A fascinating book.”–Etienne Anheim, Le Monde des Livres
“The work of a true master”–Florian Besson, Slate
THE POWER OF IMAGES: SIENA, 1338
Andrew Brown, Tr., Polity Press, 2018
(Conjurer la peur. Essai sur la force politique des images, Seuil, 2013)
Distinguished historian Patrick Boucheron uncovers the rich social and political dimensions of the iconic Frescoes of Good and Bad Government. He guides the reader through Lorenzetti’s divided city, where peaceful prosperity and leisure sit alongside the ever present threats of violence, war and despotism. From 14th century Siena to the present, The Power of Images shows the latent dangers to democracy.
“Analyzing the fresco of ‘Good Government’ painted in Siena in the 14th century, Boucheron powerfully explains the nature of political representation.”–Catherine Portevin, Philosophie Magazine
Lindsay Turner, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Vie Commune, Champ Vallon, 2016)
Stéphane Bouquet’s Vie commune gives a lively, searching vision of contemporary life, politics, and sociality. Present in it are not only Bouquet’s signature poetics, both buoyant and deft, but also traces of his work in film, dance, and choreography, which manifest in his arrangement of characters, bodies, spaces, and times. Vie commune inhabits these different genres to pose versions of one question, asked with humor and sincerity: what does it mean to inhabit the world together?
“The book is a careful balancing act which sees its author ‘blend genres and entangle different personas’ with remarkable humor and gravity. A book that nurtures you.”–Eric Loret, Le Monde
[MÉMOIRE VIVE. CHRONIQUES D’UN QUARTIER BATACLAN 2015-2016]
Katharine Throssell, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Mémoire vive. Chroniques d’un quartier Bataclan 2015-2016, Anamosa, 2017)
In 2015, Paris’ 11th arrondissement was the site of two separate terrorist attacks. Gensburger lived halfway between the Place de la République and the Bataclan concert hall. Her children’s school is a block away from the Charlie Hebdo offices. In this text, sociologist Sarah Gensburger shares her reflections
“Awkwardly brilliant. This book offers an important intervention into what it means to create histories of the contemporary.”
–French Voices Committee
NOW THE NIGHT BEGINS
Jeffrey Zuckerman, Tr., Semiotexte, 2017
(Ici commence la nuit, P.O.L, 2014)
Gilles is forty, facing a precarious future with unformed fears and regrets. The one thing that seems solid is Grampa, the ninety-year-old patriarch of a family Gilles has befriended. Gilles grows obsessed by the old man, and a strange sexual bond grows between the two. When the police get involved, and Gilles is witness to a murder, the banality of inter-human violence is brought to a paroxysmal climax. This novel recalls Georges Bataille’s dark surrealism and the unvarnished violence of Bret Easton Ellis.
“In its way, the most elegant, certainly the most hilarious brief for anarchy that anyone has written in a long time.”
[ÉDOUARD GLISSANT, PHILOSOPHE : HÉRACLITE, HEGEL ET LE TOUT-MONDE]
Michael Wiedorn, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Edouard Glissant, philosophe : Héraclite, Hegel et le Tout Monde, Hermann, 2016)
Glissant must be read not only as a great writer, but as a thinker who has radically renewed the basic questions of philosophy at the beginning of the twenty-first century, and returned it to its original form, practiced by Heraclitus and Parmenides, and banished by Plato: poetry.
“It follows that it is not only the coherence of Édouard Glissant’s work that is explored in Alexandre Leupin’s essay, but also the figure of the man himself.”
–Corinne Mencé-Caster, Université Paris-Sorbonne
[MARX ET LA POUPÉE]
Ruth Diver, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Marx et la poupée, Le Nouvel Attila, 2017)
At a time when the plight of refugees has come to dominate the world news cycle, and with xenophobia informing governmental policies and public life in many countries, this tale of a little girl’s experience of exile gives a voice to the most vulnerable of victims, whose stories are rarely heard. Although it is set in Iran and France, this story of cross-cultural adaptation has universal appeal with its poignant description of the migrant experience.
“In this account, which can be read as a fable as well as a journal, Maryam Majidi recounts her roots with humor and tenderness, depicting them as a burden, a defense, a means of socialization, and even a weapon of seduction.”
[LA SAISON DES PRUNES]
Amy Reid, Tr., Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Spring 2019
(La Saison des prunes, Philippe Rey, 2013)
1940-1944, “plum season”: Cameroun sides with the French Resistance. Future leader Ruben Um Nyobé and poet Louis-Marie Pouka are friends and meet in the village bar to discuss poetry. But the arrival of Leclerc, De Gaulle’s general, turns the art circle into army recruitment barracks. Numerous young Cameroonians follow Leclerc’s troops to what has been presented as a great victory, but is in fact revealed to be a tragedy of its own kind.
“Patrice Nganang, a superb painter, without complacence, succeeds in creating a violent and poignant portrait of Cameroon and its plums of another century.”
–Catherine Simon, Le Monde
[L’APICULTURE SELON SAMUEL BECKETT]
Roland Glasser, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(L’Apiculture selon Samuel Beckett, Editions de l’Olivier, 2013)
One summer in Paris, a young doctoral student of anthropology is hired by Samuel Beckett to help him sort through his archives. This improbable meeting inspires him to keep a journal of the experience. The outlandish, mercurial Beckett he discovers is far from the austere character he imagined. Presented as a series of journal entries, this quirky novel is a reflection upon the image of the writer and his literary heritage.
“A ballad, surely unreal, but oh how enchanting it is to be in the company of one of the most important authors of the last century.”
–Marie-Florence Gaultier, L’Express
[MA MÈRE, LE CRABE ET MOI]
Kate Deimling, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Ma mère, le crabe et moi, Rouergue, 2015)
Tania, 14 and a half, lives alone with her mother in a village in Puy de-Dôme. A quiet life, too quiet, after her parents’ divorce and her brother’s departure for military school. But the announcement of her mother’s breast cancer will brutally throw them into a world that is far more unstable and frightening. Anne Percin masterfully navigates this difficult subject matter, using sensitivity and humor to depict a mother and daughter turned fighters.
“This portrait of our era, depicted via the adolescent prism, is a beautiful accomplisment.”
–Audrey Vacher, Libération
Youna Kwak, Tr., Diálogos Books, forthcoming in 2019
(Daewoo, Fayard, 2004)
Daewoo is an evocative and powerful novel based on documentary research and interviews with former employees of the Korean corporation, Daewoo. 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
[LE SEMINAIRE : LACAN – L’ANTIPHILOSOPHIE 3, 1994-1995]
Susan Spitzer, Tr., Columbia University Press, forthcoming in 2017
(Le Séminaire : Lacan l’antiphilosophie 3, 1994-1995, Fayard, 2013)
Since 1983, Alain Badiou has been giving a series of open seminars, developing his specific conception of antiphilosophy through a historical narrative running from ancient Greece to the postmodern Western world. After Nietzsche and Wittgenstein, the third seminar takes on Jacques Lacan.
“In a witty role reversal, Badiou slips into the costume of the analyst to deconstruct the “anti-philosophical device”conceived by Lacan.”
Elizabeth Zuba, Tr., Siglio Press, forthcoming in 2017
(Amitié Éternelle, Éditions Xavier Barral, 2014)
In an exquisite collage narrative drawn from photographic archives, personal letters, propaganda posters and political speeches, artist and writer Anouck Durand tells the true story of two photographers whose friendship was forged in the crucible of war between Albania and China.
“As an example of the inexorable sweep of history, the images are illuminating: what once was deadly serious and unquestioned propaganda now seems quaint and almost unbelievable.”
[LES BAS-FONDS. HISTOIRE D’UN IMAGINAIRE]
Robin Holding, Tr., Columbia University Press
(Les Bas-fonds. Histoire d’un imaginaire, Seuil, 2013)
This groundbreaking essay addresses the concept of the “underworld” in 19th and 20th century France. Beggars, prostitutes, criminals, convicts, constitute the gritty underworld of society. Dominique Kalifa shows through literature, journalism and cinema, how a fantasy was constructed.
“Dominique Kalifa does not merely retrace the history of a literary theme. He shows what this fantasy reveals about how our societies persist in thinking commonly on misery and evil.”
—Le Nouvel Observateur
Susan Spitzer, Tr., Polity Press, forthcoming in 2018
(Lévi-Strauss, Flammarion, 2015)
In this widely acclaimed biography, written in collaboration with LéviStrauss’s widow, the eminent historian Emmanuelle Loyer presents a comprehensive portrayal of the anthropologist.
“Emmanuelle Loyer authors the first major biography of the anthropologist. A portrait of an intellectual who casted a subversive look on our time.”
[LA VENGEANCE DU TRADUCTEUR]
Emma Ramadan, Tr., Deep Vellum, forthcoming in 2018
(La vengeance du traducteur, P.O.L, 2006)
A mischievous translator erases the text he is supposed to be translating, and instead multiplies infuriated footnotes, expressing his disgust for the novel he has to work on, as well as his own dreams and reflections. However, the characters of the novel insert themselves back into the book. In this extremely witty novel within a novel, Matthieussent attempts to analyze the relationship between an author and his translator.
“We are at the heart of Literature, with its capacity to make the real vibrate, to reach it using words.”—Le Monde
Jacob Siefring, Tr., Contra Mundum Press, forthcoming in 2017
(Achab (séquelles), Verticales, 2015)
Achab (séquelles) follows the fictitious adventures of Captain Ahab before and after his fight with the great whale, first as a 17-years-old young man sailing to London in the hope of performing Shakespeare, then, after surviving his last encounter with Moby Dick, as a retired fisherman trying to sell his story to Broadway and Hollywood producers.
“The strange but audacious follow up to Melville dives into the making of our modernity and gives place to a geography to which the inventiveness of tone, the perpetual gaps, and the power of metamorphosis stun the reader.”—Marianne
Laurie Postlewate, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Joseph, Buchet-Chastel, 2014)
Joseph is a sixty year old farmer in Cantal, southern France. He knows all the farms of the region and their stories. He is soft, silent and lonely. He once loved Sylvie, thirty years ago. Joseph is a superb chronicle of the inexorable disappearance of a generation in rural France, as well as a vibrant homage to Flaubert.
“The writing of the novelist is like the world she describes, plain, noble and honorable, irrigated by the power of the earth.”—Le Figaro
READING THE TORAH
Michael B. Smith, Tr., Duquesne University Press, forthcoming in 2017
(Lire La Torah, Seuil, 2014)
In Reading the Torah, philosopher and Judaic studies scholar Catherine Chalier explains how a spiritual approach—in this case according to the Jewish tradition — leads to an overall understanding of the Torah. Chalier argues that serious study of the sacred text requires both, the knowledge of the methods used throughout history to read the Torah, and the reader’s commitment to a personal relationship with the text.
“A luminous book to understand how a spiritual reading – but not disembodied – of the “Holy Books” is arguably the best antidote for the poison of fundamentalism.”—La Procure
GLOBAL GAY: HOW GAY CULTURE IS CHANGING THE WORLD
Patsy Baudoin, Tr., MIT Press, 2019
(Global Gay, Comment la révolution gay change le monde, Flammarion, 2013)
Homosexuals can marry in Johannesburg and Mexico, but not in Chicago or Berlin. In Iran, they risk being hung while transsexuals are legally operated. For five years, Frédéric Martel conducted an unprecedented investigation in forty-five countries. Full of colorful portraits, the book relates the modern battle for Human rights.
“Global Gay, allows the reader to realize how necessary the fight against sexual discriminations is.”
Martin Munro, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Mémoires d’outre-mer, Gallimard, 2015)
Following in his Mauritian grandfather’s footsteps across the Indian Ocean, the narrator rediscovers a little-known part of history, when a colonized Madagascar was sought by the Nazis as a location to expulse European Jews. This timely novel revisits the history of French identity, reflecting on the narrator’s own remarkable, unpredictable journey of personal and familial rediscovery.
“Mémoires d’outre-mer, a tale of adventures in Madagascar, shows how a familial investigation can open to much wider seas.”—Libération
LES LUMIÈRES DE POINTE-NOIRE
Éditions du Seuil, 2013.
Translated by Helen Stevenson
To be published by The New Press in March 2016.
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.
[LE CRIEUR DE NUIT]
Grace McQuillan tr. Seeking an American publisher.
(Le crieur de nuit, Gallimard, 2010.)
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.
POWER OF GENTLENESS: MEDITATIONS ON THE RISK OF LIVING
Katherine Payne Tr.; Fordham University Press, 2018.
(Puisssance de la douceur, Payot & Rivages, 2013)
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
Ava Lehrer Tr., Seeking an American publisher.
(Travesti, Le Dilettante, 2012)
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
Lynn E. Palermo and Catherine Zobal Dent Tr., Seeking an American publisher.
[Réparateur de destin] Éditions Fayard, 2010.
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.
TRANSLATION AS TRANSHUMANCE
Ros Schwartz Tr., Seeking an American publisher.
(Traduire comme transhumer, Calligrammes, 2012)
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.
Translated by Emily Gogolak, Deep Vellum Publishing, 2017
(Bain de lune, Sabine Wespieser Éditeur, 2014)
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
Joshua David Jordan, Tr., To be published by Semiotext(e).
Éditions de Minuit, 2014.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
Pascale-Anne Brault, Tr.
Fordham University Press, 2016
(La Nostalgie, Éditions Autrement, 2013)
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
[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
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
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
[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
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
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
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
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
[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
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.”
[UN MAGE EN ÉTÉ]
Anna Fitzgerald Tr., 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
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
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
[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.”
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
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 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
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
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
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
Michelle Nava, Tr., seeking an American publisher
(Ramallah Dream : voyage au coeur du mirage palestinien, La Découverte,
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.”
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.”
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
“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.”
[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
THE MAN WHO THOUGHT HE WAS NAPOLEON
Deke Dusinberre, Tr., University of Chicago Press, 2014, With a foreword by David A. Bell
(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
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”
[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.”
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.”
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
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
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.”
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.”
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.”
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
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
[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
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
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.”
Maylis de Kerangal
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
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
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
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
[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
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
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
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
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
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.”
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
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
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
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
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.”
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
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
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
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.”
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
[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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 thesnowbound 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
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