Category French

Lacombe Lucien

Creating Dangerously: Louis Malle and Patrick Modiano’s Lacombe Lucien: The Screenplay, Translated by Sabine Destrée

Reviewed by Alex Andriesse It’s easy to be cynical about Patrick Modiano’s recent explosion into English. Since winning the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, Modiano has rocketed overnight from relative obscurity to anglophone-literary-world fame. Before the award was announced, fewer than a dozen of his thirty-odd books had been published in English. In the roughly […]

Ladivine-Marie NDiaye

Modern ghosts: Marie NDiaye’s Ladivine, Translated by Jordan Stump

Reviewed by Lara Vergnaud Tense, horrified, apprehensive–the reader is anything but indifferent to Ladivine, the latest offering from French author Marie NDiaye. The novel, translated by Jordan Stump, and nominated for the 2016 Man Booker International Prize, follows three generations of women from one family through mysterious and tragic circumstances. From the first encounter with […]

Recounting the Past: Michèle Audin’s One Hundred Twenty-One Days, Translated by Christiana Hills

Reviewed by Amanda Sarasien How to tell the unspeakable story…Perhaps numbers tell what words cannot? Our instinct is to rebel against this notion. We think of numbers, cold stats, as faceless, even violent. The Nazis were obsessive counters, tattooing concentration-camp prisoners with numbers to strip them of identity, performing experiments which transformed human beings into […]

Jean-Paul Clébert-Paris Vagabond

Paris on Zero Dollars a Day: Jean-Paul Clébert’s Paris Vagabond, Translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith

Reviewed by Alex Andriesse Legend has it that Jean-Paul Clébert composed Paris Insolite (translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith as Paris Vagabond) from “a hopeless conglomeration of used envelopes, newsprint edges, unfolded Gauloises packets, and multicolored and multifarious scraps of paper” (3). He hoarded this conglomeration in a paper bag and, most impressively, held onto it through […]

Marie NDiaye-Self Portrait in Green

Navigating troubled waters: Marie NDiaye’s Self-Portrait in Green translated by Jordan Stump

Reviewed by Lara Vergnaud Self-Portrait in Green, written by French author Marie NDiaye and translated by Jordan Stump, is a short book, clocking in at 103 pages. Right from the start—as the narrator watches the floodwaters of the Garonne River in southwest France rise—the reader is swept up by a sense of unease. The author […]

Sheds/Hangars-José-Flore Tappy

The Invisible Swell: José-Flore Tappy’s Sheds

Reviewed by Emily Thompson To hold an author’s complete works between two fingers is wonderful and disorienting—how can it be possible to condense so much experience and so many years into an inch of shelf space? Yet José-Flore Tappy’s recent collection of poetry, Sheds (in the original French, Hangars) does just that, benefitting from the […]

Michel Gondry-Mood Indigo

Foam of the Daze, translated to the Screen

Reviewed by Lucina Schell, Editor Despite being a highly cinematic book, when Boris Vian’s L’Écume des jours was published in 1947 it would have been difficult to imagine a film capable of equaling its fantastical imagination in technological effects. Now, we have the capacity to bring to vivid life even the most impossible ideas, but it is […]

Herve Le Tellier- Electrico W

Dissecting Layers: Hervé Le Tellier’s Electrico W, Translated by Adriana Hunter

Reviewed by Lara Vergnaud Electrico W is about fragments – of time, memory, language and relationships, which rudely brush against one another, and which don’t seem to cohere until they do. This latest work by experimental French author Hervé Le Tellier, published in France by JC Lattès in 2011, and now available in English thanks […]

Winter Mythologies and Abbots

Forgotten Histories: Pierre Michon’s Winter Mythologies and Abbots, Translated by Ann Jefferson

Reviewed by Amanda Sarasien History is not the sole domain of great men and “shot-heard-round-the-world” events. At least, not for Pierre Michon, one of France’s most acclaimed contemporary writers, who pored over historical archives to imagine the tales of long-forgotten figures for his most recent English-language release, Winter Mythologies and Abbots. These tales were originally published […]

Felicity, the Tale of the Simple Heart

Access & Aesthetics: An Interview with Luis de Miranda, Haute Culture Books

The young and exciting Haute Culture Books has already made a name for itself with its innovative take on the participative publishing model. Governed by the philosophy “digital books should be free, physical books should be sublime,” HCB rewards its “Book Angels” with beautifully crafted art object limited editions that subsidize the wide distribution of […]

Surrealist Texts by Gisele Prassinos

Bleak Fairy Tales: Gisèle Prassinos’s Surrealist Texts, Translated by Ellen Nations

Reviewed by Lucina Schell, Editor Born in 1920 and discovered at just fourteen by André Breton, Gisèle Prassinos became the darling of the surrealists. Regarded as a sort of living incarnation of the surrealist ideal of the child-woman, a pure, uncorrupted talent, she had been writing ecstatic literature from her unconscious with no knowledge of the […]

Red Grass

Rhapsody in Red: Boris Vian’s Red Grass, Translated by Paul Knobloch

Reviewed by Amanda Sarasien Though the French film adaptation of Boris Vian’s novel L’Écume des jours has yet to be scheduled for release in the US, it seems already to have generated a buzz capable of reviving American interest in this regrettably overlooked, but wildly inventive, author.  Fortunately, TamTam Books has just released another novel […]

Tips for Reviewers

Tips for Reviewers: New Digital Tools to Assist Translators & Reviewers

As a blogger, looking over the program of offerings for the first day of the American Literary Translators’ Association (ALTA) Conference in October, “Translation and the Digital Age” was a must. Not knowing what to expect, I attended, anticipating some discussion of the benefits or detriments of digital publishing for literature in translation. What I found was […]

Lydia Davis brings her concision and ironic sensibilities to a new translation of Madame Bovary

Reviewed by Lucina Schell, Editor As a great admirer of Lydia Davis’ short fictions, I am very enthused to see her tackle new translations of classic texts from the French by Proust and Flaubert. The recent Man Booker Prize winner, acclaimed for her concision and humor—many of her “short stories” are only one sentence long—possesses […]

Translating Music: Foam of the Daze by Boris Vian, Translated by Brian Harper

Reviewed by Lucina Schell, Editor In the Harvard Crimson’s 1969 review of Mood Indigo, John Sturrock’s translation of Boris Vian’s L’Écume des jours, the author provides this disheartening forecast: “It is unlikely that Vian’s novels will become particularly popular in this country: they’re very French, and they suffer in translation. But Mood Indigo has a […]