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Philippe Lançon: Life After Charlie Hebdo

In Disturbance, the French writer and journalist describes his slow reconstruction after being severely wounded in the terrorist attack against newspaper Charlie Hebdo. A deeply moving account the author will present in the U.S. from January 23-31. On January 7, 2015, two men armed with assault rifles entered the offices of satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo and opened fire on...

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Michel Houellebecq: The Writer Behind the Phenomenon

The French writer published Sérotonine last January at the age of 62. His latest work, which was recently translated in English and published in the U.S., offers another take on his favorite character, the depressed white male. While less political than Submission, the new novel with a print run of 320,000 copies made the front pages in France, despite the...

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Jean-Paul Dubois, the Worried Observer of America

With a dozen novels, short stories, and essays to his name, Jean-Paul Dubois has created a profoundly human body of work inspired by his experience in America, where he worked as a correspondent for Le Nouvel Observateur for 15 years. His latest novel, Tous les hommes n’habitent pas le monde de la même façon, won France’s top literary honor, the...

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Isadora Duncan, Reborn in a Graphic Novel

Ninety years after her death, long-forgotten American dancer Isadora Duncan is now back in the spotlight. Franco-American actress Lily-Rose Depp played her in the movie The Dancer three years ago, and she is now the lead character in a graphic novel published in France by Dargaud in 2017 and translated into English this week by SelfMadeHero. Isadora retraces the fanciful...

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How Charles de Gaulle Rescued France

As Julian Jackson insists in the preface of his biography, published by Harvard University Press in 2018 and translated in French by Seuil, De Gaulle is “everywhere” in modern France, its undisputed hero. This claim, like some other confident statements in the book, may strike a reader as both narrowly true and what a French thinker might call metaphysically false. His...

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Jean-Baptiste Del Amo: Up Close and Personal With Nature

French author Jean-Baptiste Del Amo won the Prix Goncourt du Premier Roman for Une éducation libertine in 2008, and in 2016 published Règne animal, a denunciation of the violent treatment of animals. Driven by lyrical, organic writing, it will be released in English in the United States on September 10 as Animalia. Rarely does a book stimulate all the senses...

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Philippe Petit, the Last Sky Poet

Anticipating the 45th anniversary of Philippe Petit’s incredible tightrope walk between the Twin Towers in New York, the New Directions publishing house has rereleased his book, On the High Wire, a practical, poetic little work translated into English by New York writer Paul Auster. Philippe Petit sitting down is a sad sight to behold. He usually inspires images of a...

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Monsieur Mediocre: The High Art of Being French Everyday

John von Sothen is an American columnist who lives in Paris, where he covers entertainment and society issues for French Vanity Fair. He moved there after meeting his wife, Anaïs, in a café in Brooklyn. They now have two kids who, with Anaïs, are featured throughout his first book, Monsieur Mediocre, which is ultimately a love letter to France — to...

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Laurent Gaudé: Observing the Wounds of History

French novelist and playwright Laurent Gaudé was born in 1972 and has written several plays, novels, short stories, and opera libretti. He was awarded the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens in 2002 for Death of an Ancient King, an epic novel about a fictional African monarch, followed by the Prix Goncourt in 2004 for his novel The Scortas’ Sun, which paints...

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Lucky Luke, a Cowboy in Paris

Lucky Luke is the main character in a Francophone comic-book series, but is all but unknown in the United States where the market is dominated by superheroes from the Marvel franchise. For the first time ever, in Lucky Luke, a Cowboy in Paris published in French and English, the sheriff has left the American West to visit France during the Belle...

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Ninety Years On, Tintin Is Still Struggling to Conquer America

The little Belgian reporter invented by illustrator Hergé is undeniably a 20th-century hero in France and Belgium. But even with Tintin in America, which saw the journalist travel to Chicago and the Wild West, the character has always struggled to carve out a niche in the U.S.A. where Marvel reigns supreme. As General de Gaulle liked to say, “In actual...

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Five Coffee-Table Books for the Holidays

France-Amérique has selected five coffee-table books including rare editions, glossy guides to fashion and art de vivre, and collections of cocktail recipes all published by prestigious houses. Perfect for putting under the tree this Christmas.   Eternally Ritz In 1898, the Swiss businessman César Ritz inaugurated a palace hotel boasting “the full sophistication any prince would expect to find in...

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The Art of French Conversation for Dummies

Using tennis matches, good wine that needs time to breathe and English-style gardens, Julie Barlow and Jean-Benoît Nadeau have an impressive arsenal of metaphors when it comes to illustrating the subtleties of French conversation. This couple of journalists from Quebec lived in Paris for four years, and observed the codes that govern verbal interactions between French people during a bus...

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“The Order of the Day,” a Goncourt Laureate Like no Other

For the first time since it was founded, the Prix Goncourt has been awarded to a historical account instead of a novel. The winner is none other than The Order of the Day by Eric Vuillard, a staggering work of some 130 pages which was recently translated and published in the U.S. After the initial surprise, readers will be firmly...

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Jeanne Damas’ Love Letter to Parisian Women

The book of photographs À Paris, which was released in France last year, is now available in the United States under the title In Paris: 20 Women of Life in the City of Lights. According to French fashion designer and model Jeanne Damas, it is impossible to define what the archetype of la Parisienne really means: there are as many Parisian...

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France and the United States From Liberation to Exasperation

How did Americans go, in the mind of the French, from gum-chewing liberators to Coke-swilling invaders? A U.S. historian and a French cheesemonger examined this transformation in a book published this summer. During the Liberation, American GIs used calvados brandy to fuel their Zippo lighters. In 1948, the French communist party called for a boycott of the American soda giant, accusing...

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How Three Celebrated Women Captured the Imagination of Marcel Proust

At the turn of the 19th century, three celebrities of their day reigned supreme in the uppermost crust of Paris. These three women, Madame de Chevigné, Straus, and Greffuhle, are important to us today not because of their status but because they inspired the pen and passion of Marcel Proust. The famed author conflated their characteristics to create the fictional...

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Flying Free: U.S. Pilots Saved by the Normans

American fighter planes and bombers supported the Allies in the Battle of Normandy from June through August 1944. During the war, some 2,700 pilots were forced to execute an emergency landing. Local inhabitants came to their rescue, and the soldiers were instructed to blend in with the French until the country was liberated. One such aviator, Major McLeod, went on...

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May ’68: All Power to the Slogans!

Whether scribbled on tables, put up on posters in the streets, or chanted during protests, the slogans from May ’68 have become a part of French popular culture. As part of the 50th anniversary of the “events,” a collection of the slogans has been translated into English and published by the MIT Press. The spirit of May ’68 may have...

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Book Clubs in France and the United States

While the American style of book club is growing in popularity with French people, particularly via social media, the culture of group reading is not as widespread in France as in the United States. Publishing historian Jean-Yves Mollier compares U.S. book clubs — originally inspired by religion — and their French counterparts — born of worker’s rights and activism. France-Amérique: What is...