As summer time is approaching, the most lucky of us may soon have the opportunity to enjoy more free time to relax and read, in French of course! Lying on the beach or on Central Park’s greens, don’t wait and discover our selection of amazing novels for the summer, prepared by the French bookstore Albertine. Would you like to learn, laugh or travel, find the books that will fit in your handbag, or in your luggage!
1-Winner of the Albertine Prize for its first edition: Bardo or not Bardo, by Antoine Volodine
Editions du Seuil
The Albertine prize recognizes American readers’ favorite work of contemporary Francophone fiction while encouraging the discovery of new literary voices, translated and published in the US in 2016.
According to Buddhism, each of us starts to walk for 49 days after death, in an intermediary world called Bardo. We are guided on that difficult way by a lama who reads the tibetan “book of the deaths”. But what will happen if the dead person doesn’t want to obey? Or if he/she actually wants to stay in the Bardo? If the lama reads a cookbook instead of the sacred book? Or if many uninvited guests join the party?
2- La sonate à Bridgetower, by Emmanuel Dongala
Editions ACTES SUD
If you belong to the historical novels enthusiasts, this book is for you!
Indeed, with this fabulous novel, Emmanuel Dongala takes us back into the age of enlightenment in Europe and into its society salons, following Georges Bridgetower, musical prodigy whose talent has puzzled the greatest artists of that time, like Joseph Haydn and Beethoven.
3- Tout ce dont on rêvait, by François Roux
Editions Albin Michel
Back in the 1990’s, the reader meets Justine, 25, in love with Alex. Twenty years later, we find her living peacefully, not with Alex but with his brother Nicolas and their two kids… This lasts until her husband gets fired….
4- Yellow cab, by Benoit Cohen
Benoit Cohen, director of the movie “Nos enfants chéris” among others, decided to move to Brooklyn in order to write his new script regarding a taxi driver’s life. Therefore he applied and became a NYC taxi driver. One year long, he drove through the city, listening to many hilarious stories and witnessing unbelievable situations, that he recounts for us with warmth and a keen eye for detail.
5- Les premiers, by Xabi Molia
Editions du Seuil
A smart and funny novel where France wakes up one morning with a handful of superheros. First, it seems to be a relief as they help people in desperate situations, but what will happen when they discover the downsides of unwanted celebrity?
6- Dakota song, by Ariane Bois
New York, 1970. Dakota Building depicts the glamorous and tumultuous life going on in this ultra posh and famous building located Upper West Side, where John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Lauren Bacall, Rudolph Noureev, & Leonard Bernstein have all spent some time with some less famous but not less interesting neighbours.
7- Désorientale, by Négar Djavadi
Editions Liana Levi
We meet Kimiâ, who left Iran for France when she was 11 years old. Now she is waiting in the hospital with her girlfriend Anna, to get an artificial insemination. There she recalls her story and memories, about her family, her teenager’s years and the political instability they have left behind in Iran. A family saga as well as a vivid description, both social and political, of Iran of yesterday and France of today.
8- Sélection officielle, by Thierry Frémeaux
20 years of the Cannes festival, witnessed from behind the scene!
9- Culottées Vol 1 et 2, by Pénélope Bagieu
Editions Gallimard Bande dessinée
In this comic book, you will meet among others: Margaret, an Hollywood actress who specializes in roles as a baddie; Agnodice, gynecologist in the time of ancient Greece, who had to dress as a man to work; Lozen, an Apache woman, a warrior and a chaman; Annette, the Australian mermaid who invented women’s swimwear…
With wit and humour Pénélope Bagieu is providing us with a vivid portrait of 15 outstanding women, who did not hesitate to resist the social pressure of their time and fought for live the life they wanted.
10- Two authors to discover in Pocket edition
Former Divisional Inspector, Hughes Pagan, has decided to become a detective novel author to get over his years as cop. His narrator, a jaded policeman who is Head of a night shift, ends up in possession of critical information related to a Senator’s death (murder? Suicide?). With an eye recalling James Ellroy’s in LA confidential, Hugues Pagan describes a world of corrupted cops who do not hesitate to forge statistical returns to make their results look better, or to harass foreigners in irregular situation. A minimalist plot allows Pagan to show the full extent of his incredible talent: delicate phrasing, flowing style and captivating despair; it definitely rocks!
Our favorite: Dernière Station avant l’autoroute (Rivages/Noire)
By the same author: Last Affair (Rivages/Noire); Boulevard des allonges (Rivages/Noire)
The beauty of Alison Lurie’s novels lies both in her elegant writing style and in her own bonding with her -inevitably quirky and unconventional – characters. As Polly Alter, 39 years old, heroine of the sparkling “La vérité sur Lori Jones”: vulnerable after a recent divorce, she is struggling to write a biography of the painter Lori Jones, as she worries that her son prefers moving to Denver with his Dad to staying with her in New York City. She doesn’t know if she should rather share her friend’s feminist engagement or try and find love…. As usual, Alison Lurie depicts her heroin’s distresses with delicacy and lightness: a must-read!
Our favorite: La vérité sur Lorin Jones.
By the same author: Les amours d’Emily Turner, La vérité et ses conséquences, Editions Rivages
You will find all these titles, and many more, at Librairie Albertine, 972 5th Avenue. Feel free to ask Miriam, Nathalie and their colleagues for any advice or recommendations regarding your favorites themes or the level in French language needed to read one particular novel.
More than just a French bookshop, Albertine is also a place of choice to take part in weekly events related to the French language and culture! You may also become a member, get discounts, special invitations and receive a free tote bag!
To learn more about the cultural events at Albertine, click here.