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Tag: Books

john-von-sothen-monsieur-mr-m-mediocre
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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Le Pouvoir Discret or Le Soft Power? How French Is Fighting Back Against Globish

It should have been a celebration of French language and literature; instead it kindled a controversy. Last month’s national book fair, Livre Paris, was rocked by the organizers’ decision to highlight la littérature “Young Adult” (rather than jeune adulte) through a series of equally ill-named events. Say hello to la Bookroom, le Photobooth, le Bookquizz, and even un Brainsto (presumably...

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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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Louise Bourgeois: L for Labyrinth, B for Beauty

French-American artist Louise Bourgeois is the woman behind more than 3,000 works of art including sketches, prints, jewelry, sculptures in wood, fabric, plaster, and rubber, as well as her monumental spiders. A coffee-table book designed in the style of a glossary has been published by Rizzoli to commemorate the career of the woman known as the “lioness of contemporary art.”...

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Tomi Ungerer, Author of The Three Robbers, is Dead at 87

French illustrator Tomi Ungerer, 87, passed away this Saturday in Cork, Ireland. Born in Alsace, he moved to the United States in the 1950s where he became famous for his children's books, erotic (and often humorous) drawings, and posters against the war in Vietnam. Tomi Ungerer left France for New York in 1956, leaving his memories of the Nazi Occupation behind...

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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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“Colette” in U.S. Theaters

British actress Keira Knightley is cast in the role of the French renowned novelist in this biographical movie, out in the U.S. on September 21, looking back over her nascent literary career and turbulent private life. In 1893, despite their 14-year age difference, a young Burgundy girl named Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette marries Willy, an egocentric writer and womanizer. He introduces her...

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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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A New French Consul in Los Angeles

French writer Philippe Besson was appointed Consul General of France in Los Angeles. A close acquaintance of Emmanuel Macron's, his accession to such a coveted position is raising questions. The author of 18 books, including Un personnage de roman — an account of Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 campaign and an intimate portrait of the presidential couple — Philippe Besson will soon be...

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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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The Birth of U.S. Naval Aviation on the Ile d’Oléron

On August 20, 2018, Ile d’Oléron (in the Charente-Maritime département) will be paying homage to the 383 U.S. soldiers who lived on the island during World War I. Posted more than 400 miles from the trenches, these pilots, sailors, and mechanics from the U.S. Navy were tasked with defending the French coast against German submarines. Located on the Atlantic Ocean...

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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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“Memoir of War,” an Excruciating Wait

Memoir of War is an adaptation of a semi-autobiographical work by Marguerite Duras. It recounts the novelist’s seemingly endless wait for her husband, Robert Antelme, who was imprisoned at Buchenwald during World War II. Director Emmanuel Finkiel offers a heartrending movie which was chosen to represent France at the 2019 Oscars ceremony. June, 1944. France is still living under Nazi...

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Edouard Louis: Books as Weapons

The acclaimed French author recently graced the pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post, which profiled him as his third novel, Qui a tué mon père, was published in France and his second novel, Une histoire de la violence (History of Violence), was translated and published in the U.S. As he did in his celebrated debut novel,...

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Why Are Books on French Women so Successful in the U.S.?

American writer Sadie Stein has no shame about it: she delights in art de vivre manuals and other self-help books à la française. These guides explaining how to behave, talk, dress, work, eat, flirt, decorate your home, or raise your children like a French woman are increasingly popular in the U.S. “The crazier things get here at home, it seems,...

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Gaël Faye: From Rapper to Best-Selling Author

French-Rwandan author Gaël Faye sat down with the New York Times in Paris. He discussed his childhood in Burundi, the outbreak of the civil war and his escape to France, the beginning of his rapping career and his lucky encounter with French editor Catherine Nabokov, and the success of his autobiographical novel, Petit Pays (Small Country), which was translated in...

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The New Yorker Meets with François Hollande

For a minivan ride and a book-signing event, New Yorker writer Lauren Collins shadowed former French president François Hollande, whose four-hundred page account of his five years in office came out last April. The book, "between a self-help guide and a thriller," is the thirteenth-best-selling book on Amazon in France. Read more at The New Yorker.