(asked by Jessica from Singapore)
Your blog is great! I was wondering whether you could recommend some books by contemporary French authors? I like reading translated novels from authors of a country. I think reading could help us understand the French way of thinking!
Which authors are popular in France? And do you think any of them are translated into English? What English books are popular in France?
And first of all, thanks for the kind word.
While I really like this question and completely agree with the part about literature from a country helping understand about a local way of thinking, it will be very hard for me to answer this question in an objective manner as personal taste will have a big influence on the answer.
So first, what contemporary French author can I recommend?
Well, first of all, I have to say that French literature is not currently going through its greatest time. All the great writers and intellectuals of the 20th Century are dead, and the ones of the 21st haven’t really emerged yet. Also, I’m not really sure what contemporary French writers are easily available in English. Let’s see what Amazon suggests.
Keep in mind that this list is definitely not comprehensive and is based on these criteria: they’re alive, they’ve been translated into English, they’re at least half-decent, I have read them.
- Frédéric Beigbeder
- Tonino Benacquista
- Didier Daeninckx
- Philippe Djian
- Benoît Duteurtre
- Jean Echenoz
- David Foenkinos
- Michel Houellebecq
- JMG Le Clezio
- Marie Nimier
- Amélie Nothomb
- Daniel Pennac
- Michel Tournier
- Antoine Volodine
Of course there are more, but this is a start. What I can advise is to read things about them, as whether you’ll be interested in them or not greatly depends on your tastes. And I added a widget at the end of this post that will allow you to order books from these authors on Amazon if you wish (yes, I do get a small commission of a few cents per sale, which helps paying for this blog’s hosting).
Also note that the most popular French writers are not on this list, because I simply think they’re utter crap. I won’t even mention their name as they’re an embarrassment to French literature.
As to what English language authors are popular in France right now?
Mmmm…. Well, I’m not really sure actually. Thinking about it, I haven’t read many contemporary English writers lately (and as I read them in English, I don’t really pay attention to what’s popular in translation). Let’s see what amazn.fr tells us.
As I’m typing this, the best selling English fiction book (translated into French) on amazon.fr is by Douglas Kennedy (I read a book from him once: meh…), he’s number three. He’s followed by Lisa Kleypas at the number six position (I have no idea who this person is) and Kathryn Stockett (number 11, I don’t know her either).
If anyone wants to add their two cents, please feel free. By that I mean that if I have forgotten an important contemporary French author who has been translated into English please feel free. If you just want to plug in your favorite one, be careful, I could mock you if I feel that he or she sucks.
And I mentioned a few lines ago, here is a small widget from which you can buy some of the books by the aforementioned authors (make sure you buy from those links if you want to help me pay the bills for this blog, I will be very grateful)