10 books in French to relish this summer

10 books in French to relish this summer

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!

10 books in French for AdultsLibrairie Albertine New York

1-Winner of the Albertine Prize for its first edition: Bardo or not Bardo, by Antoine VolodineBardo 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?

Surprising and fun!

2- La sonate à Bridgetower, by Emmanuel DongalaLa 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 RouxTout ce dont on revait by Francois 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….

After Le bonheur national brut, François Roux carries on describing our tumultuous times and society with brio and sensitivity.

4- Yellow cab, by Benoit CohenYello cab by Benoit Cohen

Editions Flammarion

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 Moliaes 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 BoisDakota song by Ariane Bois

Editions Belfond

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.

A flashback in a time when New York  was a dangerous and financially ruined city, but where creativity was emerging everywhere and everyone was definitely ready for a huge transformation.

7- Désorientale, by Négar DjavadiDesorientale by Negar 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 FrémeauxSélection officielle Thierry Frémeaux

Editions Grasset

20 years of the Cannes festival, witnessed from  behind the scene!

9- Culottées Vol 1 et 2, by Pénélope Bagieu

Editions Gallimard Bande dessinéeCulottées Pénélope Bagieu

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

Hugues PaganDernière Station avant l'autoroute by Hugues Pagan

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)

 Alison LurieAlison Lurie

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.

Cliquez ici pour la version française

Photo credit: Dmytro Panchenko@123RF

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