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Exclusivement Française

Josie Mitchell: Marie NDiaye, 20 October 2022

Self-Portrait in Green 
by Marie NDiaye, translated by Jordan Stump.
Influx, 87 pp., £7.99, February 2021, 978 1 910312 89 6
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... Marie NDiaye​ ​  was born in 1967 and spent most of her childhood in the Paris banlieues. Raised by her French mother, she didn’t meet her Senegalese father until she was fifteen, and this disjointed parental dynamic makes its way into many of her books. Disapproving parents loom, are disappointed and disappointing ...

The Dining-Room Table

Lucie Elven: Anne Serre sheds her armour, 21 April 2022

The Fool and Other Moral Tales 
by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson.
Les Fugitives, 228 pp., £10.99, June 2021, 978 1 8380141 5 5
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The Beginners 
by Anne Serre, translated by Mark Hutchinson.
New Directions, 128 pp., $14.95, July 2021, 978 0 8112 3031 5
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... which are at most a few pages long, takes its first line from another writer (Arthur Conan Doyle, Marie NDiaye, Robert Walser). In the course of this repurposing, Serre seems to shed her fabulist narratorial armour. Good things happen: a mother becomes unrecognisable – more affectionate and practical and chicken-roasting – overnight; a therapist ...

Book of Bad Ends

Paul Keegan: French Short Stories, 7 September 2023

The Penguin Book of French Short Stories: Vol I 
edited by Patrick McGuinness.
Penguin Classics, 483 pp., £30, October 2022, 978 0 241 46199 0
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The Penguin Book of French Short Stories: Vol II 
edited by Patrick McGuinness.
Penguin Classics, 352 pp., £30, October 2022, 978 0 241 46205 8
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... by tragic clairvoyance (Charles Nodier’s visionary rustic simpleton, who sees the execution of Marie Antoinette written in the skies), or death by apotheosis, however qualified: Charles Dantzig’s terminally ill narrator acting out his first-person extinction in real time, cruising the autoroutes, his last words ‘Me, me, me, me!’ And Flaubert’s ...

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