For the Francophile Book Lovers on Your Holiday List

In Feature Articles by Porter Anderson

Literature from France is the specialty of Albertine in Manhattan, the director of which recommends these books for francophone gift recipients.

Image – iStockphoto: La Corivo

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

For Children and Adults
As it does each year, the French Embassy’s literary outreach program, Albertine, offers a list of suggested reads for your holiday gift list.

If you’re in New York City, Albertine has a store at 972 Fifth Avenue in the Payne Whitney mansion. Online, you’ll find a seasonal selection of holiday books, curated by the program’s director, Nathalie Lacroix.

A point of business interest to our industry readers: French books sold by Albertine comply with French pricing law, which allows no more than a five-percent reduction in cost.

Here’s a quick look at those titles Lacroix is suggesting this year, with her brief descriptions of each.

Continuer by Laurent Mauvignier (Éditions de Minuit).

For the sake of her teenaged son, a mother decides to leave their life in Paris to ride horses and explore the mountains of Kirghizista, in Central Asia, for several months. The story tells a tale of love between a mother and her son.

L’autre qu’on adorait by Catherine Cusset (Gallimard).

The author depicts the life of friend and former lover Thomas Bulot, who killed himself at in 2008 at the age of 39. He’s portrayed as a sensitive, funny and unique man. The book is a moving oration which restores dignity to the beloved and dearly missed friend.

Le grand jeu by Céline Minard (Rivage).

Living in a high-tech hut suspended on a cliff, a woman intends to survive, challenging herself physically and spiritually. However, an unexpected encounter with a hermit upsets her plans. The novel is a radical and bold quest concerning both solitude and living with others.

L’histoire du lion Personne by Stéphane Audeguy (Éditions du Seuil).

During a long trip between his hometown and Saint-Louis, Senegal, a young African boy encounters and adopts a lion cub that he names Kena, which means “person” in his native language. The novel is a brilliant tale for adults. Winner of the Wepler Prize, 2016.

Écoutez nos défaites by Laurent Gaudé (Actes Sud).

While on a mission in Beirut, a French operator from an intelligence agency encounters an Iraqi archeologist who tries to save many treasures from museums in bombed cities. The book is a magisterial novel on the absurdity of war.

Laëtitia by Ivan Jablonka (Éditions du Seuil).

The author recounts the 2011 news story of a young woman named Laëtitia Perrais, who was kidnapped, stabbed, and strangled near her home in France. The event became a government matter. The book offers a detailed analysis of the redemptive story.

Moi, c’est Blop! by Hervé Tullet  (Phaidon).

This is an excellent book for young children to learn about colors and shapes. An original and beautiful book.

Les cinq malfoutus by Béatrice Alemagna (Helium).

Five “imperfect” characters discover tjat their weaknesses might become qualities if handled differently. A wonderful book that highlights the remarkable talents  of illustrator Béatrice Alemagna.

Les Théories de Suzie by Eric Chevillard (Helium).

A perfect book for children ages 7 to 10. Suzie sees the world in a unique way and intends to share this vision with the world.

Le lion et l’oiseau by Marianne Dubuc (La Pastèque).

A beautiful account of the nature of friendship, the sadness of loss, and the joy of a finding a dear one.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.