Violaine Huisman’s Book Recommendations for This Summer!

Because of their unique perspectives on books, and their ability to see straight off what makes one unique and valuable, writers are often the best people to ask for a good recommendation. You may also have noticed that they never need more than two or three sentences to fill you with the urge to run out and discover whatever title they may be celebrating.

Violaine Huisman, author of the beautiful debut novel Fugitive parce que reine and of the forthcoming Rose Désert (Gallimard, August 2019), is no exception to the rule. In addition to being a stellar writer, Violaine is also a translator and curator.
She was Director of Humanities at BAM (Brooklyn Academy of Music) for almost a decade, and previously worked in publishing. As a literary agent, she was responsible for the publication of Grégoire Bouillier’s memoirs Report on Myself and The Mystery Guest, Marguerite Duras’ Wartime Writings, and other titles.

Violaine Huisman is on the board of Dalkey Archive Press and Archipelago Books. As of June 2019, she is the co-founder of The Floor, a new space in Brooklyn devoted to hosting many diverse and cultural adventures, where she programs literary and community events.


Tous nos hiers by Natalia Ginzburg

A chronicle of Italy at war from the point of view of those who stay behind. Ginzburg sketches a gallery of portraits of heartbreaking subtlety to describe the course of history from the perspective of the invisible – women and children, the disabled, the elderly, the mad.

Tous nos hiers, de Natalia Ginzburg, translated from the Italian by Nathalie Bauer, Liana Levi/Piccolo




Rose poussièreby Jean-Jacques Schuhl

In a prose that defies the clichéd language of headlines, Schuhl takes the reader on a journey across popular culture while playing with its stigmas and semantics. Stars of the moment, magazine spreads, the white noise of television are like the “pink dust” eyeshadow that gives the book its name.

Rose poussière by Jean-Jacques Schuhl, Gallimard / also available in English, in a translation by Jeffrey Zuckerman, Semiotext(e)

La Chambre de Giovanniby James Baldwin

A timeless classic about a man falling in love with another man. Desire, fear, social isolation, shame, lust, ambivalence are some of the feelings described with boundless compassion in Baldwin’s words. It is also a story about displacement and alienation. About being at home in your body before you can point to a home in the world. Written by an American in France, this topic might find an echo in the hearts of French people in America.

La Chambre de Giovanni de James Baldwin, translated from the English by Elisabeth Guinsbourg, Rivages poche

Deux dames sérieusesby Jane Bowles

In contrast to her spouse, Paul Bowles – author of The Sheltering Sky – Jane Bowles’ travel story evokes foreignness without giving in to racial stereotypes. Her strange and audacious narrative also tackles the question of feminine emancipation with humor, candor and wit.

Deux dames sérieuses by Jane Bowles, translated from the English by Jean Aufret, L’Imaginaire Gallimard


Le Sort tomba sur le plus jeuneby Sophie Blandinières

Winner of the 2019 Prix Françoise Sagan (full disclosure: I was president of the jury this year). An urgent book about sexual abuse against underage girls blending reportage and personal stories. Written in a sharp, dangerous voice that matches in its fierceness the terrifying reality it uncovers.

Le Sort tomba sur le plus jeune by Sophie Blandinières, Flammarion