Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Livres Hebdo on the forthcoming French literary season

In its feature article on the forthcoming Fall's literary season, the French professional magazine of the book industry Livres Hebdo examines the literary trends and topics that have emerged from the 600+ titles soon to be published (Livres Hebdo number 916, June 29 2012, pp. 82-87):

With its traditionally generational novels, its questioning on the couple, its dive into family affairs and its mise-en-abîme of the creation or retranscription of social reality, the 2012 production presents all the great themes that spice up a literary season by analysing our society. Indeed, French fiction is getting more and more irrigated by reality and is trying to tell our contemporary world. Several novels yet distance themselves thanks to the originality of their themes.

Livres Hebdo further identifies that:

Writers use fiction to slide into the lives of historical figures or to take over unknown characters.

Agence de l’Est will be concentrating on offering titles in the latter category, novels that present the extraordinary lives and grey areas of historical figures:

The story as seen from the eyes of Drypteis, Hephaestion’s widow, who accompanies Alexander the Great’s body after his death, and of the generals who fight over Alexander's body to take his place.
Warning: this is not a historic novel; this is the continuation of a legend, retelling Drypteis’ story at the time in which she disappears from known history.

The life and work of the great Czech mathematician Kurt Gödel, as told by his wife Adele years after his death to a young academic, Anna, whose life will be changed in the process. The epic life of a genius who never learned how to live, and of a woman who only knew how to love.
It is already expected to be one of this Fall’s biggest hits, as said in this article from the French daily Le Figaro last week.

The pilot of one of the meteorological reconnaissance planes which led the way of the atomic bomber towards Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.

At the end of his life, while preparing one of his last exhibitions, Jean Siméon Chardin unveils himself in a moving letter to his son.


Another noticeable trend that Livres Hebdo highlights is that:

It is also what happened during the past year that finds an echo in the imagination of this literary season’s authors.

The following is an example taken from the article:

The international turmoil can be found in Mathias Énard’s novel; the specialist of the Arabic world and of the Middle-East wondered through the characters of RUE DES VOLEURS what it meant to be twenty years old in the times of the Arab Spring.


The last part of the article deals with those novelists who have written theatre plays:

The stage is the novelist’s new territory. Four plays written by novelists will be both published and staged in the Fall.

Livres Hebdo focuses on four of them: Emmanuelle Pireyre, Amanda Sthers, Laurent Seksik and Laurent Mauvignier.

As far as debuts are concerned (69 first novels are to be published between the end of August and October):

These novelists’ favourite subjects are family, insanity, culture and new technologies as agents of the transformation of society.

Agence de l’Est offers some of them:

Before killing herself, Hélène leaves her ten-year-old son in Pierrot’s care. At first he hesitates, confronted by such an unexpected responsibility; but his group of friends do their best to help him raise the child. What follows brings Pierrot to finally believe in happiness.

The touching story of a family of puppetteers' journey across Europe spanning three generations, between the 19th and 20th centuries. A story that speaks for all those who struggle with the passing times and our ever-changing world.


And last but not least:

The prize of the longest novel will no doubt be awarded to Sylvie Taussig’s 1,776 pages of DANS LES PLIS SINUEUX DES VIEILLES CAPITALES, published by Galaade.

Sylvie Taussig

On Culturebox, the blog owned by francetv.fr, the website of the group of national TV channels France Télévisions, Anne Brigaudeau writes:

The longest novel of the literary season, DANS LES PLIS SINEUX DES VIEILLES CAPITALES by Sylvie Taussig, is published by a small publishing house of quality, Galaade.

How do they justify such a courageous choice? “We’ve had this novel for five years, says the publishing house. This is a monstrous piece of work where everything converges and a very original style.”

Born in 1969, the author is the translator of the philosopher Hannah Arendt’s works and a researcher at the Centre National d’Etudes Scientifiques (CNRS). Galaade sends to lazy critics an exciting “booklet with the synopsis included” that gives you the itch to dive into this sprawling novel on Paris, a worldly and thousand-year-old city.