Romans de l’été
When you head to the beach this summer, it’s likely that you’ll throw a favorite beach read in your tote bag. Likewise, French travelers pick up a "roman de gare" (a book for the train) as they journey to the coast or the mountains for a summer escape. No matter what you call it—or if you’re traveling by car, plane, or train—a good book is a must-have travel item. We’ve made a list of some of the top books for summer 2018, from France’s latest hits to recently released English translations. Whether you’re looking for a light beach read or a contemporary classic, make sure to pick up one of these from Albertine Books in time for les vacances!
Not One Day
Anne Garréta, Translated by Emma Ramadan
Not One Day, the 2018 winner of the Albertine Prize, is composed of twelve gripping vignettes detailing the author’s experiences with desire. Featuring intimate and reflective anecdotes, the book conveys emotion and memory in precise and detailed prose, faithfully articulating the nuances of each experience.
Christine Montalbetti, Translated by Jane Kuntz
American Journal follows the journey of two old friends from college, Donovan and Tom. Through the lens of their reunion, the novel serves as an exploration of the American experience. French author Christine Montalbetti provides fresh, new vantage points on classic aspects of American culture, like college football, small-town life, and the automobile.
The Perfect Nanny
Leila Slimani, Translated by Sam Taylor
When Myriam and her husband were searching for a new caretaker for their children, Louise appears to be the perfect choice. But over the course of The Perfect Nanny, it becomes clear that things aren’t always what they seem. This thrilling and captivating novel, originally published in France as Chanson douce (“Lullaby”), was awarded the Prix Goncourt, one of the highest honors in French literature.
Waiting for Tomorrow
Nathacha Appanah, Translated by Geoffrey Strachan
Waiting for Tomorrow tells the story of Anita, an immigrant from Mauritius, and Adam, who recently moved to Paris from the countryside. The outsiders two meet and begin their lives together, but eventually their relationship becomes strained. The arrival of a new caretaker for their daughter, however, brings about change. Through vivid description and careful detail, author Nathacha Appanah explores the life of the artist and the challenges faced by a family.
Annie Ernaux, Translated by Alison L. Strayer
Originally published in France in 2008, The Years is the historical memoir of renowned French author Annie Ernaux. Covering the years 1941 through 2006, The Years provides a vivid illustration not just of Ernaux’s own life, but of the society in which she lived and the evolving role of women within it.
A Walk Through Paris
Eric Hazan, Translated by David Fernbach
In A Walk Through Paris, author Eric Hazan guides the reader through the famous City of Lights, from famous landmarks to little-known attractions. Hazen ties in historical anecdotes and literary references, illustrating how the city’s revolutionary past has shaped the city and continues to give it spirit.
Exiled from her home country of Iran at the age of ten, Kimiâ spends much of her time trying to distance herself from her country, her culture, and her family. However, Kimiâ realizes that no matter how hard she tries she cannot escape her demons. Kimiâ’s struggle with identity offers a glimpse into the Iran’s past and present day French society.
For those who are looking to exercise their French this summer, here are some top titles in French to check out:
Une Fille Comme Elle
A delightful comedy, Une Fille Comme Elle transports the reader to the heart of New York City, in an apartment building on the famous Fifth Avenue. Residents’ lives are shaken up when beloved elevator operator, Deepak, takes a fall down the stairs. When his mysterious nephew, Sanji, arrives to take his place, the residents soon come to learn that there’s more to this newcomer than meets the eye.
4 3 2 1
Paul Auster, Translated by Gerard Meudal
Paul Auster’s ambitious bildungsroman, details four possible versions of the life of Archibald Ferguson, a Jewish boy born in 1940s Newark. Auster’s story offers an unparalleled glance into the lives of the American middle class during the mid-twentieth century.
La Jeune Fille et La Nuit
This chilling novel takes the reader back to a icy winter night in 1992. Vinca Rockwell, one of top students at a prestigious high school, has disappeared, never to be seen again. Twenty-five years later, her best friends—Fanny, Thomas, and Maxine—reunite for the first time since finishing their studies, and are forced to confront their dark secret. They had committed murder, and locked the body in the school gymnasium—which is about to be torn down.
La Serpe remixes the genres of auto fiction and detective novel as it tell the story of Henri Girard, first a suspect in his family’s murder, then an exile in South America, and eventually a bestselling author.
Actions Scandaleuses et Rebellions Quotidiennes
Gloria Steinem, Translated by Mona de Pracontal, Alexandre Lassalle, Laurence Richard and Hélène Cohen
Actions scandaleuses et rebellions quotidiennes is the French translation of feminist Gloria Steinem’s witty and ever-relevant short story collection, with a preface from actress Emma Watson.
La disparition de Stephanie Mailer
The tranquil environment of Orphea, a quiet seaside town in the Hamptons, is shattered by the murder of the mayor and his family on July 30, 1994. Two young police officers are on the case, and earn praise and awards for their work. Three decades later, however, a journalist named Stephanie Mailer brings the case back to light—then disappears. What did she discover? And what happened to her?
Vers La Beauté
Antoine Duris, a professor at Beaux-Arts in Lyon, suddenly quits to become a security guard at the Musée d’Orsay, and is placed in the Modigliani room.The hiring manager, Mathilde Mattel, often catches the mysterious man talking to the portrait of Jeanne Hébuterne, Modigliani’s fiancée who met a tragic fate. No one knows the tragedy in Duris’ past, and he turns toward beauty as a way to get by.
Couleurs de l’Incendie
The sequel to Au-Revoir là-haut, Couleurs de l’Incendie tells the story of a denigrated woman determined to get her revenge at any cost. The story is set in the thirties as banquers and politics are betraying the Society of Nations, and Nazism and fascism are invading a Europe fragilized by the 1929 financial crash.
L’Archipel Du Chien
When the bodies of three African migrants wash up on the shore of an island in the middle of nowhere, the mayor and other elites are anxious to hide the story, worried that it might attract negative attention. Topical and well-written, L’Archipel du Chien speaks to the questions at the core of humanity, exploring greed and empathy in the face of tragedy.
Il est grand temps de rallumer les étoiles
This story of humor, love, and humanity revolves around three generations of women with three different voices. Constantly overwhelmed with work and life, Anna decides to embark on a camping expedition to Scandinavia with her two daughters in order to reconnect with her daughters who have seemingly lost their joy for life. Follow this trio as they rediscover what family and life really mean.
La mélancolie du kangourou
Laure Manel’s novel, La mélancolie du kangourou, recounts the life of Antoine, a newly single father who has recently lost his wife. Faced with one of the greatest tragedies of his life, Antoine hires Rose, a vibrant young girl, as a caretaker for his baby. Will Rose’s arrival be the catalyst of change in Antoine’s life? Read to find out. ◣