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.
COMPASS, by 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 STORY, by 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 MOSES, by 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 INVESTIGATION, by 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 EDDY, by 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.
LADIVINE, by 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.
PETRONILLE, by 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.