Mathias Enard, Kamel Daoud and Amelie Nothomb in the news

In the Book Review section of The New York Times dated October 10, 2017 was published, at the occasion of the Frankfurt Book Fair where France was the guest of honor, an article entitled “10 French novels to read now”. We can find three titles represented by The French Publishers’ Agency: Compass by Mathias Enard, The Meursault Investigation by Kamel Daoud, and Petronille by Amélie Nothomb.

Here's below the whole article.

10 French Novels to Read Now

by Mira Kamdar

PANTIN, France — France, or, rather, the French language, since not all authors who write in French hail from France, is the guest of honor at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair, which runs from Oct. 11 to 15. To get a feel for the current state of France’s literary landscape, here are 10 recent novels by some of the most talked-about members of the 105-author French delegation to the Frankfurt Book Fair whose work has been translated into English.

THE PERFECT NANNY, by Leila Slimani. Translated by Sam Taylor. (Penguin, $16.) Slimani’s disturbing portrait of class, race and motherhood begins with a slaughter of innocents and then ratchets up the tension as clues multiply of how the increasingly intimate relationship between a nanny and the family she works for could culminate in such an incomprehensible crime. Publication date: Jan. 9, 2018.

COMPASSby Matthias Énard. Translated by Charlotte Mandell. (New Directions, $26.95.) In this magisterial, exquisitely erudite novel, the insomniac meditations of the bedridden and lovelorn musicologist Franz Ritter take the reader on a vast, crisscrossing perambulation through the rich history of the commingling of Orient and Occident in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The West’s obsession with the East, lost cosmopolitanisms wrecked by wars and what Edward Said got wrong in “Orientalism” are suborned to the power of art and the anguish of unrequited love.

BASED ON A TRUE STORYby Delphine de Vigan. Translated by George Miller. (Bloomsbury, $28.00.) With her children off to college and her documentary filmmaking lover abroad, a novelist meets an impeccably elegant ghostwriter who deftly takes over her life and saps, succubus-like, her will to write and, nearly, to live. By the end of the book, the lines between reality, fiction and madness are blurred to the point where it isn’t clear if they can be redrawn.

BLACK MOSESby Alain Mabanckou. Translated by Helen Stevenson. (New Press, $23.95.) A foundling child laid at the door of an orphanage in Republic of Congo comes of age during the 1960s and ‘70s as his country shakes off its colonial past and ham-handedly tries to construct a new socialist-revolutionary identity. Mabanckou heartbreakingly captures a child’s struggle to figure out who he is and how he can survive in a world so gratuitously cruel and unjust it ultimately drives him insane.

THE MEURSAULT INVESTIGATIONby Kamel Daoud. Translated by John Cullen. (Other Press, $14.95.) In “The Meursault Investigation,” Daoud, an Algerian journalist, retells the story of Albert Camus’s classic, “The Stranger,” from the point of view of the brother of the nameless man Camus’s protagonist, Meursault, shoots on a beach in Algiers. In the process, Daoud gives the murdered man a name, Musa, and forces the reader to reassess Camus’s story in the context of French colonialism in Algeria and current religious politics.

THE END OF EDDYby Édouard Louis. Translated by Michael Lucey. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23.) Our critic Jennifer Senior saw a “Hillbilly Elegy of France” in this autobiographical gay coming-of-age story set in a French village in the throws of industrial decline. Louis spares his reader nothing of the brutish physical violence of young Eddy’s father and tormentors along with the relentless violence of poverty. Education is Eddy’s ticket out of this rural hell but it also seals his estrangement from those whose love and acceptance he still craves.

LADIVINEby Marie NDiaye. Translated by Jordan Stump. (Alfred A. Knopf, $26.95.) In “Ladivine,” psychological trauma haunts the lives of three women: an immigrant black grandmother named Ladivine who works as a housekeeper, her daughter Clarisse who marries a white Frenchman and, ashamed, keeps her mother’s existence a secret from their daughter, also named Ladivine. Uncanny events, fractured memories and the constant slippage of selves unmoored by the violence of race and class twisted up in undeniable love keep the pages turning. In the end, the possibility of redemption comes from a surprising source.

SUBMISSION, by Michel Houellebecq. Translated by Lorin Stein. (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $25) Notorious for his cynically provocative take on contemporary French society, Houellebecq’s “Submission” hit like a bomb when it was published in France on what turned out to be the day of the deadly Jan. 7, 2015, attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. This dystopian portrait of a near-future France that, more out of social fatigue than anything else, elects a Muslim president who quickly moves to transform the country into a Muslim state is a darkly humorous book that manages to offend just about everyone.

VERNON SUBUTEX, Vol. 1, by Virginie Despentes. Translated by Frank Wynne. (MacLehose Press, £12.99.) Despentes is France’s most famous bad-girl author. A rape survivor who has worked as a prostitute and a housemaid, Despentes’ unapologetically feminist eye picks out the telling details of contemporary French society’s casual ennui and petty hypocrisies. Her “Vernon Subutex” series of novels — there are three — are critically acclaimed best-sellers in France. In Volume I, we meet the book’s eponymous hero, a fallen former record-store owner who has nothing left to his name except interview tapes of a recently deceased rock star that could be his ticket off the streets.

PETRONILLEby Amélie Nothomb. Translated by Alison Anderson. (Europa Editions, $15.) Born in Japan to Belgian diplomat parents, Nothomb is one of the French language’s most prolific writers, publishing nearly a book a year since her debut novel “Hygiene and the Assassin” came out in 1992 when she was just 26 years old. Petronille, a frothy exploration of female friendship set in the Champagne region of France, is just the kind of lighthearted book Nothomb’s fans expect from her.

 

MATHIAS ENARD'S COMPASS ON THE SHORT LIST FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE

 

“Énard has written a masterful novel that speaks to our current, confused moment in history by highlighting the manifold, vital contributions of Islamic and other Middle Eastern cultures to the European canon… With divisive rhetoric spouting these days from every direction, Mathias Énard’s magnificent Compass has appeared on our shores at precisely the right time. It’s a novel that looks closely at the intersections — historical, personal and, most of all, musical — between East and West. It also provides another welcome look at the kinships that bind the Middle East to Europe. In doing so, Compass reminds us that these are not static places, but in fact dynamic combinations of cultures and traditions. The genius of Énard’s composition lies in the seemingly random organization of Ritter’s thoughts. Of course, they’re not random, no more than is any literary exercise in stream of consciousness, but the tendrils that subtly lead from one thought to the next are astounding. Although Ritter appears to make huge leaps in logic, and his brain jumps from topic to topic, Énard always provides us with enough bread crumbs to follow his winding path.”

—Andrew Ervin, The Washington Post

 

“A fever-dream meditation on East and West and a lost love that binds the two worlds… Lyrical and intellectually rich without ever being ponderous, reminiscent at turns of Mann's Death in Venice and Bowles' Sheltering Sky.”

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Énard’s prose, which tends to pile descriptive clauses ever higher on top of one another... can be mesmerizing. But it’s the larger project of his writing that bears particular consideration: in his fiction, Énard is constructing an intricate, history-rich vision of a persistently misunderstood part of the world.”

—Jacob Silverman, The New Yorker

“As much an essay, a compendium, a rant and a polemic as it is a work of fiction. This novel contains many books and all of their counter books. Ritter himself is a knot of contradiction… Compass is as challenging, brilliant, and―God help me―important a novel as is likely to be published this year.”

—Justin Taylor, The Los Angeles Times

 “Mr. Énard fuses recollection and scholarly digression into a swirling, hypnotic stream-of-consciousness narration. [...] So this sad yet invigorating novel is both a love letter to a vanishing discipline and an elegy. Franz’s mental circumnavigations constitute a celebration of the civilizing power of knowledge and ‘the beauty of sharing and diversity.’”

—Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal

“The cultural cross-pollination between east and west is explored in a tale that offers rare delights.” —Tobias Grey, Financial Times


“A novelist like Énard feels particularly necessary right now, though to say this may actually be to undersell his work. He is not a polemicist but an artist, one whose novels will always have something to say to us. If that doctored replica of Beethoven’s compass stands as a fitting emblem of Ritter’s work, a better one for Énard’s would be the compass that can be found in hotel rooms throughout the Islamic world, so that travelers can orient themselves for prayer.” —Christopher Beha, Harper's Magazine

“In a time of fear and loathing, Énard’s magnum opus points us toward the reality behind so many myths of the Orient. Charlotte Mandell’s radiant translation of Compass into English provides its readers with the opportunity to step back and consider the question of how France and the rest of the West might look at Islam and, for that matter, the world east of Europe. The beauty of Compass is the sheer breadth and density of its vision, calling forth a multitude of different worlds.”

—Jeffrey Zuckerman, The New Republic


“This astonishing, encyclopedic, and otherwise outré meditation by Énard on the cultural intersection of East and West takes the form of an insomniac’s obsessive imaginings―dreams, memories, and desires―which come to embody the content of a life, or perhaps several… An opium addict’s dream of a novel.”

—Publishers Weekly

“Poetic, audacious.” —Ben East, The National

“For all its sandstorm of scholarship, translated with tireless eloquence by Charlotte Mandell, Compass aches with that simple yearning. ‘Only love’ of a person or a culture, thinks Franz under the stars of Syria, ‘opens us up to the other.’” —The Economist

“Compass is a novel about many things. At its surface it is about the pull of unmet dreams and ambitions. The falsities of love. But at the crux of this examination of a human life is the fabric of cultures intersecting―and in the truth that the pathos of grief exempts no one.”

—Yasmin Roshanian, Europe Now

“Few works of contemporary fiction will yield as much pleasure as Compass. Reading it amounts to wandering into a library arranged in the form of an exotic sweet shop, full of tempting fragments of stories guaranteed leaving you wanting more. Énard conjures up the wonders of the Middle East in a sorcerer’s cornucopia, alive with illusions and allusions, which is itself a cultural compass and so much more.”

—Irish Times

Compass is a novel for, more than of, our times, often comic but ultimately deeply serious... Énard manages to make what is essentially this sleep-deprived protagonist's monologue consistently entertaining―no wonder he can't sleep, with all this bubbling in his mind…”

—Michael Orthofer, The Complete Review

“Compass is poetic, ironic, irresistible.”

—Jane Ciabattari, BBC

 “Mathias Énard has found a way to restore death to life and life to death, and so joins the first rank of novelists, the bringers of fire, who even as they can’t go on, do.”

—Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions

“Mathias Énard is the most brazen French writer since Houellebecq.”

—New Statesman

“Enard’s novel is a bottomless treasure chest of stories about European adventurers, archaeologists and explorers such as Annemarie Schwarzenbach and Gertrude Bell, who succumbed to the fascination of the Orient – a fascination that, Enard shows, led to a rich cultural dialogue over the past centuries, finding its way into European literature, art and not least music.”

—Ulrich von Schwerin, Qantara

Compass is a profound and subtle tale. Énard is an immensely ambitious writer—luckily, his ambition is matched by his equally extraordinary talent.” —Alberto Manguel, El País

“I’m grateful to Mathias Énard for having given me the chance to read about an Orient that includes as much complexity as humanity. It’s not the Orient of the Other, but a reader’s and a writer’s experience. If I dared, I would say that it’s a participatory Orient.” —Kamel Daoud, author of The Meursault Investigation

Paris Vagabond in the NYT

Jean-Paul Clebert's PARIS VAGABOND (Paris insolite) was reviewed in the New York Times by Edmund White:

It’s a picture of a bohemian Paris that has now all but disappeared... a remarkably vivid, detailed book that seems to have been composed with no method, its narrative marked by a chaotic and cheerfully self-acknowledged spontaneity... Clébert is a master of the long, cascading list-­sentence, trippingly rendered into English by Donald Nicholson-Smith.

Anais Nin Prize to Emmanuelle Richard

The Prix Anaïs Nin 2016 has been awarded to Emmanuelle Richard for her novel Pour la peau (Editions de l'Olivier, 2016), and we're thrilled to be handling the English-language rights.

Founded in 2015 by Nelly Alard (author of the recently published Couple Mechanics) and Capucine Motte (author of Apollinaria, une passion russe), the Prix Anaïs Nin provides up to 10,000 of funding for the prizewinning book to be translated into English.

Original […] courageous, masterful writing, with the author’s voice intensely present from start to finish. —Le Monde des livres

Dry, savage, lapidary, half way between the Annie Ernaux of Une passion simple and the later Duras. —Livres Hebdo

"Literature Against Evil": Mathias Enard and Kamel Daoud

Kamel Daoud (The Meursault Investigation) and Mathias Enard (Boussole) talk about each other's books -- and Orientalism, evil, "fossilized" thought, Wahhabism, Islamic writers in the February 2016 issue of Le Magazine Litteraire

KD: I'm grateful to Mathias Enard for having given me the chance to read about an Orient that includes as much complexity as humanity. It's not the Orient of the Other, but a reader's and a writer's experience. If I dared, I would say that it's a participatory Orient.
ME: For me, the absolute evil...is ignoring others, the possibility of difference. It's zero degrees of curiosity. You're incapable of seeing outside yourself, such that you believe that you already know everything and have already understood everything... Absolute evil resides in this citadel of the brutish and violent self.
ME: What will save the Arabs, and in a large part the Iranians, is that a millennium of extraordinarily strong culture is resting underneath their feet... I remain optimistic in the sense that, if we want to fight, there are powerful weapons, and there are people to take them up. We need only to find the time to think and to convince the media to spread this thought. 

Couple Mechanics reviewed in The Economist

The Economist reviews Nelly Alard's Couple Mechanics, out this month from Other Press.

There is “an element of will in love”, writes Nelly Alard in “Couple Mechanics”, the new English translation of her award-winning novel “Moment d’un Couple”. Every relationship forces couples to “decide to love, to keep on loving, or to stop loving.” Such negotiations are invariably tricky, as Ms Alard shows in this elegant and gripping tale about a marriage on the rocks...Ms Alard tells this tale with admirable restraint... “Couple Mechanics” shies away from melodrama. Instead, it offers a keen look at the work of love at that point—tough for everyone—when passion must be replaced by will.

Couple Mechanics was originally published by Gallimard in 2013 as Moment d'un couple. It was translated into English by Adriana Hunter.

French Readers Put Arab Authors on the Bestseller List

In Publishing Perspectives, Olivia Snaije writes about the prevalence of Arab authors on current French bestseller lists, including Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation (published in English by Other Press), Boualem Sansal's 2084 (English translation forthcoming from Europa Editions), and Mathias Enard's Boussole (English translation to be published by New Directions).

French is no longer a language that just belongs to France. It has been firmly adopted by authors who grew up under French colonialism but also by younger writers who no longer feel burdened by it... The long tradition of francophone writing from Arab countries is flourishing; even if in North Africa policies of Arabization were put into place following decolonization, French continues to have a significant linguistic presence. A large number of these authors are first published in France by mainstream publishers, and have direct access to the French market.

 

The politics of recent French literature in the NYT

Citing three of our titles -- Boussole2084, and The Meursault Investigation -- The New York Times writes about the prevalence of the Islamic world in recent French literature. 

These novels have captivated a country grappling with its identity and its vexed history as a colonial power, and show how France is pulled today between nostalgia for its past and fear for its future.

Mathias Enard's Boussole is the winner of this year's prestigious Prix Goncourt and will be published in English by New Directions. It's now on the third spot in France's fiction bestseller list, reports Publishers Weekly.

Boualem Sansal's 2084 will be published in English by Europa Editions, and Kamel Daoud's Meursault, contre-enquête  was published this year by Other Press as The Meursault Investigation

BOUSSOLE winner of 2015 Prix Goncourt

The Academie Goncourt announced this morning that the 2015 Prix Goncourt is awarded to Mathias Enard's Boussole, published this year by Actes Sud!

Boussole follows Viennese musicologist Franz Ritter, who has been diagnosed with a mysterious but serious and possibly degenerative illness. The night of the diagnosis, sleepless and unable to rest his mind, he thinks back across the arc of his life and the two great and equally impossible loves that formed it: Sarah and the Orient.

Enard infuses the far-ranging nighttime thoughts in Compass with conversations, letters, biographies, and an encyclopedic knowledge of the people and places where East met West, the Occident and the Orient. Enard, and Ritter, focus on the transformation of Western art and music in the nineteenth century—a transformation that took place because of the passion of the Orientalists, Westerners who conjured a dream-world Orient unremarked by the Orient itself.

 

Kamel Daoud in the New York Review of Books

Claire Messud reviews Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation in the October 22 issue of The New York Review of Books

The novel is the poignant account of a man whose life has been warped, from the beginning, by his mother’s legacy of rage and grief. This is a familiar theme of postcolonial literature and one that Daoud will shape into a critique of revolutionary and postrevolutionary Algeria, a country that, in Harun’s view, is not much better off than in its previous incarnation.

Longlists announced for the Goncourt, Medicis, Femina, Jean Giono, Renaudot, Prix de Flore

It's the season for French literary award longlists, and we've been pleased to discover how many of our authors and books have been selected! 

  • Mathias Enard, author of Street of Thieves (Open Letter, 2014) is on the longlist for the Prix Goncourt, the Prix Femina, and the Prix Jean Giono for his novel Boussole (rights available)
  • Boualem Sansal, author of The German Mujahid (Europa, 2009) and Harraga (Bloomsbury, 2015) is on the Goncourt, the Renaudot, the Medicis and the Femina for 2084: The End of the World (rights available)
  • Thomas Reverdy is on the longlist for the Goncourt for his novel Il etait une ville (rights available)
  • Daniel Parokia's Avant de rejoindre le grand soleil (rights available) is the only first novel to appear on the longlist for the Prix de Flore
  • Yves Bichet's L'ete contraire (rights available) is on the longlist for the Prix Renaudot

Europa Editions featured in T Magazine

"Recently, something improbably happened in the literary world: Europa Editions -- a small, Italian-born publisher -- became, of all things, a coveted intellectual brand," writes Liesl Schillinger in T Magazine (of The New York Times) this week. "The Ferris [the husband and wife co-founders] wanted to break down those walls by making Americans hungry for fiction with a global outlook. The surest way to instill that hunger, they thought -- apart from choosing titles that had been well-received overseas -- was to add some European visual flair." 

Europa Editions has published many of our titles, including Muriel Barbery's The Elegance of the Hedgehog; Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt's Concerto the Memory of an Angel, Three Women in a Mirror, The Most Beautiful Book in the World, The Beautiful Bouquet, and Invisible Love; Anna Gavalda's Billie, French Leave and Life Only Better; Amélie Nothomb's Hygiene and the Assassin, Tokyo Fiancée, and Life Form; and Raphaël Jerusalmy's Saving Mozart.

Mathias Enard's STREET OF THIEVES longlisted for 2015 National Translation Award

Street of Thieves (Mathias Enard, published in French by Actes Sud in 2012 and in English by Open Letter in 2014) is on the longlist for the 2015 National Translation Award, administered by the American Literary Translators Association. 

Street of Thieves was translated by Charlotte Mandell, who has translated works from a number of important French authors including Proust, Flaubert, Genet, Maupassant, and Blanchot, among others. She received a Literary Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for her translation of Enard's Zone along with a French Voices grant.

See the rest of the list here

Financial Times calls THE MEURSAULT INVESTIGATION "the starting point for a study of loss, colonialism and religion"

Azadeh Moaveni writes in Financial Times, "The Meursault Investigation is also a meditation on bereavement and a lament for the growing hold of conservative Islam on post-independence Algeria...The Meursault Investigation is perhaps the most important novel to emerge out of the Middle East in recent memory, and its concerns could not be more immediate."

Read the rest of the review here

Los Angeles Review of Books interviews Kamel Daoud

Robert Zaretsky interviewed Kamel Daoud, author of The Meursault Investigation, for the Los Angeles Review of Books:

RZ: More than 20 years pass after the publication of The Stranger before Harun discovers and reads the novel. How old were you when you first read the novel for the first time? What was you reaction to it?

KD: I was either 20 or 21, I think. My first reaction was boredom. I liked The Rebel and Myth of Sisyphus much more than The Stranger. Like everyone else, I barely noticed the Arab.

Read the rest of the interview here. 

Kamel Daoud, via Los Angeles Review of Books

Kamel Daoud, via Los Angeles Review of Books

Daoud in The New York Times Book Review

A review of Kamel Daoud's The Meursault Investigation, published on June 2 by Other Press, on the front page of The New York Times Book Review. Laila Lalami writes:

To be successful, a literary retelling must not simply dress up an old story in new clothes. It must also be so convincing and so satisfying that we no lonter think of the original story as the truth, but rather come to question it. In "The Meursault Investigation," Daoud has done exactly this.