Nicole Rudick Reads Albertine Prize Finalist ‘Suite For Barbara Loden’
Suite For Barbara Loden, a novel by Nathalie Léger, translated from the French by Natasha Lehrer and Cécile Menon, (Dorothy, a publishing project/US, P.O.L./FR), is long-listed for the Albertine Prize, a reader’s choice award. Albertine booksellers have selected ten of the best French novels translated into English in the past year; US-based readers can vote between March 16 and April 30th here.
NICOLE RUDICK on Suite for Barbara Loden
“A woman is pretending to be another, in a role she wrote herself, based on another … playing something other than a straightforward role, playing not herself but a projection of herself onto another, played by her but based on another.” In Suite for Barbara Loden—part biography, part meditation—Nathalie Léger sets out to write a short notice about filmmaker Barbara Loden for an encyclopedia but is waylaid by the difficulty of telling another person’s story. And not just any person, but a woman whose defining achievement was to direct and star in a film about another woman. That film, Wanda, is ostensibly about a woman to whom nothing happens—nothing except for life. As Loden merges with Wanda, so too does Léger begin to merge with Loden; and the reader—perhaps especially the woman reader—feels herself fold into this nebulous company, wondering “what she will lose, or what she is going to find.”
Nicole Rudick is a writer, and the Managing Editor of the Paris Review. Her writing has appeared in the New York Review of Books, the L.A. Times, the Believer, Aperture, the Millions, Artforum, and Bookforum.
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