Despite the pandemic, French publishers will publish no less than 493 titles this winter, including 340 novels written by French authors. Here is a selection of 10 must-haves for this winter season unlike any other.
Serge, by Yasmina Reza
Novel perfectly mastered by author and playwright Yasmina Reza. At the Popper’s, a French family like many others, who love to punish well. But underneath the words and the difficulty of expressing feelings also hide tensions and wounds. Reza excels in the art of dialogue. She also has a mad talent for bringing out the ridiculous in the most tragic situations. The Popper’s visit to Auschwitz will be remembered for a long time. Some are already imagining the film that will be taken from this grating novel. Too bad Jean-Pierre Bacri is no longer with us, he would have made a great Serge.
The last child, of Philippe Besson
Théo, the last of three children, leaves the family home and Philippe Besson, with his usual sensitivity, tells us about this departure from the mother’s point of view. In this novel which takes place in a single day, that of moving, Besson manages to accurately describe the feeling of vertigo and the immense sorrow that many mothers (not all) feel when the last chick leaves the nest. Sober and beautiful.
This morning, of Gaelle Josse
His pen had seduced us in A woman in backlight, the portrait of street photographer Vivian Maier. She comes back to us with the intimate story of a woman, Clara, 35, paralyzed by a burnout. Clara is the kind of successful woman who succeeds in everything. But that doesn’t stop it from sinking in and hitting bottom of the barrel before it can slowly rebuild itself. This is surely not the first book on depression, but Gaëlle Josse has a fine, sensitive and intelligent pen that sets her apart. This account of a burnout allows him to reflect on the place of work in our lives and the values that dictate our choices.
Revenge is mine, of Marie Ndiaye
This is the story of Susane, a lawyer from Bordeaux rather beige who wonders if she would not know this client who calls on her services to save his wife, accused of having killed their three children. Susane delves into her memories: she was 10, he was 14. What exactly happened? It is also the story of Marlyne, this infanticide mother, and Sharon, a Mauritian housekeeper. Fates intersect, the past resurfaces as in a dream, in a disturbing atmosphere. We can’t wait to discover this novel by the author of Three powerful women (Prix Goncourt 2009) which has been preceded by rave reviews since its release in France.
La familia grande, by Camille Kouchner
It is the thunderclap of this literary return, an uncompromising account of the incest suffered by a young adolescent from his stepfather. The fact that the drama took place in French politico-media circles gave this book a resounding echo. The author, Camille Kouchner, twin of the victim, daughter of the former minister and co-founder of Doctors Without Borders Bernard Kouchner and Evelyne Pisier, a great French intellectual figure who died in 2017, has found the right words to say the unspeakable .
… but life goes on, of Bernard Pivot
He published his first novel in 1959. At the age of 82, now retired, Bernard Pivot talks to us about old age, the body that lets go, time regained to savor friendship, reading, life. The one who had a prime minister’s schedule seems to want to take advantage of the last few years that remain to him, far from the scandals and questionings that shake his former environment. A luxury that is not offered to everyone …
A boy like you and me, by Ivan Jablonka
Ivan Jablonka continues his exploration of masculinity undertaken in his essay Righteous men: from patriarchy to new masculinities, published in 2019 (he also spoke about sexual violence in his novel Laëtitia or the end of men). The historian works with a living material: himself. In this half-story, half-essay book, he looks back on his childhood and his education to try to understand how we bring up boys, what values we pass on to them, what idea we impose on them of sexuality. This father of three daughters reflects on façade masculinity and explores avenues that could shatter the straitjacket that suffocates many men. If we delved into this question, who knows, we might end a lot of suffering?
The crossing of time, volume 1: lost paradises, Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt
There is not much to the test of Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, favorite author of Quebec readers. After having written about Hitler, Mozart and God, he offers us, nothing more and nothing less, a history of the world revisited through Noam, an immortal young man. We will follow Noam through the centuries and through his search for meaning. A sort of spiritual tale that will take us until today. Ambitious.
Life in relief, by Philippe Delerm
Since The first sip of beer, Over 20 years ago, Philippe Delerm built up a loyal readership who will be delighted to find him here. The author of these little vignettes of which he has the secret speaks of the passing of time and the pleasure of savoring every moment. With short texts, he takes up the chronology of his life with beautiful moments, images that have permeated his memory, memories in which many will find themselves. Brief reflections that are timely as the pandemic gives us plenty of time to reflect on the meaning of our life.
The unknown of the post, by Florence Aubenas
In the purest tradition of non-fiction narrative, a genre very popular in the United States and emerging on the French-speaking side, the great journalist Florence Aubenas is investigating the assassination of Catherine Burgod, found dead in 2008 in Montreal-la-Cluse (in Ain). The prime suspect, Gerald Thomassin, who won a César in 1991 for his role in The little criminal Jacques Doillon, was arrested and released twice. Another trial is scheduled for 2019 after another suspect has been identified. However, with the approach of the trial, dramatic turn of events, Gérald Thomassin disappears. We can count on Florence Aubenas to tell us this incredible story with brio.
* Please note that due to current health measures, some publications may be postponed or delayed.