Category French

The Net and the Fence: On Jean Daive’s “Under the Dome: Walks with Paul Celan,” Translated from French by Rosmarie Waldrop

By Anna Levett Several times in Under the Dome, Jean Daive’s elliptical, poetic memoir about his friendship with the Jewish German-language poet Paul Celan, a net bag makes an appearance. I imagine it’s the kind of bag in which you would carry fruits or vegetables that you’d bought from a market—a bag made of mesh […]

The Safeguards of Translation: Philippe Jaccottet’s “Patches of Sunlight, or of Shadow: Safeguarded Notes, 1952-2005,” Translated from French by John Taylor

By Samuel Martin Holding the latest volume of notes by the Swiss poet and translator Philippe Jaccottet, turning it over in one’s hands, one’s first impression is indeed of volume and bold color; it is another of the lavish editions that Seagull Books have made their calling card in recent years. One’s second impression, having […]

A Manifesto for Uncertain Times: Noémi Lefebvre’s “Poetics of Work,” Translated by Sophie Lewis

By Andria Spring “Are we at war, Papa?” “What makes you think that?” “I don’t know, all these soldiers outside the shops.” “Then it must be war.” “But people are shopping in the sales.” “So we can’t be at war.” “The police are checking handbags and ID cards.” “That means it’s war.” “But there are […]

Translation as Care: On Fabienne Kanor’s “Humus,” Translated from French by Lynn E. Palermo

With her novel, Kanor converts loss and absence that mark the experience of slavery into recovery and presence.

Metamonopolyphonic: Antoine Volodine’s “Solo Viola,” Translated from French by Lia Swope Mitchell

By Neal Baker Solo Viola is a work of fiction whose fantasy begins on the front cover. The name Antoine Volodine, supposedly identifying the novel’s author, is in fact an introduction to one of many characters populating the literary world of Volodine’s peculiar brand of science fiction he himself termed “post-exoticism.” Volodine is the primary […]

Translation as Testimony: On Makenzy Orcel’s “The Immortals,” Translated from French by Nathan Dize

By Jennifer Boum Make You immortalize all the whores of Grand Rue, taken away by this thing. Makenzy Orcel, The Immortals Makenzy Orcel. Nathan Dize. Two writers who have tasked themselves to transform the stories of others as they create language that allows the rendering and relaying of the voices of those who are too […]

GETTING INSIDE THE OUTSIDE: ANDRÉ DU BOUCHET’S “OUTSIDE,” TRANSLATED FROM FRENCH BY ERIC FISHMAN AND HOYT ROGERS

By John Taylor Following upon Hoyt Rogers and Paul Auster’s translation of André du Bouchet’s Openwork (Yale University Press, 2014), this fascinating new translation, Outside—by Rogers and Eric Fishman—draws attention once again to a seminal figure in postwar French poetry. Thematically and philosophically, if not from a stylistic perspective, du Bouchet (1924-2001) can be associated […]

Alone With One’s Thoughts: Henri Bosco’s “Malicroix,” translated from French by Joyce Zonana

Before the story begins, Bosco alludes to a number of pages omitted from the novel and reserved for that moment when “someone truly qualified” might gain access. And so Malicroix puzzles and conceals even after it is closed.

Halcyon Days: Adrien Goetz’s “Villa of Delirium,” translated from French by Natasha Lehrer

The novel falls within the greater readiness in French culture to reckon with the nation’s anti-Semitic past than its colonialism.

A Life of Ruptures: Frédéric Pajak’s “Uncertain Manifesto,” Translated from French by Donald Nicholson-Smith

A novel that traverses generic as well as geographic and historical boundaries, Uncertain Manifesto switches, from chapter to chapter, between autobiography, essay, illustrated novel, history, literary analysis and fable-like fiction.

On Sex and Death: Vicente Huidobro’s “Skyquake: Tremor of Heaven,” co-translated from Spanish by Ignacio Infante and Michael Leong

Composed as twin originals in Spanish and French between 1928 and 1931, this roving long prose poem witnesses the perpetual, agonized yearning of separated lovers seeking one another across eternity and infinity, where they collide—gloriously—on occasion, before scattering through the universe once again.

In Search of the Weeping Woman: Brigitte Benkemoun’s “Finding Dora Maar,” Translated from French by Jody Gladding

By Mark Polizzotti Engaging with the life of a person you’ve never met can be an odd and disorienting business, and few know this better than biographers. What would push an otherwise sane adult to devote months, years, even decades to ferreting out the minutiae of someone else’s existence? And what is the strange alchemy […]

“Gaza is Mayotte, Mayotte is France”: Natacha Appanah’s “Tropic of Violence” translated from French by Geoffrey Strachan

By Nathan Dize Gaza is a name capable of conjuring many ideas: statelessness, precarity, violence, tenuous and embargoed freedom, occupation, colonialism, and the list goes on. The name has also become synonymous with contested sovereignty in an era of postcolonial globalization, where, despite their supposed ephemerality, words like “settlements” and “camps” are imbued with a […]

A Most Intimate Fantasy: Marion Fayolle’s “The Tenderness of Stones,” Translated from French by Geoffrey Brock

By Neal Baker Across several graphic novels and two collections of wordless comics, Marion Fayolle has demonstrated her surreal imagination and her inclination toward visual comedy and metaphor. In The Tenderness of Stones, translated in English by Geoffrey Brock, she brings her practice to the personal. Written during and about the decline of her father’s […]

Envoicing the Unheard: “Faces on the Tip of My Tongue” by Emmanuelle Pagano, Translated from French by Sophie Lewis and Jennifer Higgins  

By Nataliya Deleva Faces on the Tip of My Tongue is a book difficult to describe in one sentence. It caught my attention at its launch event in London when my thoughts dissolved into a conversation with the co-translators Sophie Lewis and Jennifer Higgins. It was presented as a book about people on the fringe […]