Gift Ideas for Fiction Addicts

Just in time for the holidays, here’s a list of our favorite literary fiction (and nonfiction) published this year. From Laure Murat’s vertiginous Proust: Roman Familial, to Chloé Delaume’s brilliant Pauvre folle, to this year’s Prix Goncourt to David Le Bailly’s somputuous Hotel de la Folie, to Elisa Shua Dusapin’s spellbinding Le Viel incendie. We stand by each of our picks and believe that they will all make terrific gifts!

Reading List

Veiller sur elle by Jean-Baptiste Andrea

Winner of this year’s Prix Goncourt

“A brilliantly written novel that allows you to (re)discover the history of Italy during the 20th century through the eye of a poor but gifted sculptor. How could you be free to do whatever you want when you are a young aristocratic woman ? Let Viola teach you how to fly with its own wings! How could you make it as a talented sculptor when you have no money and a bully as your boss? Mimo will show you and transport you with him through his journey of becoming a famous artist with all its bright sides and all its dark sides. For anyone who loves art and colorful characters!”

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Le Vieil Incendie by Elisa Shua Dusapin

Two sisters meet again after a 10 year separation to empty the house of their (just deceased) father. As they try to restore a sisterly bound, they walk around their childhood territory which has been taken over by natural elements.
Winner of this year’s Prix Wepler

Agathe, a screenwriter living in NYC, must return to empty out her childhood home following the death of her father. She is alone with her sister Vera, who stopped talking when she was 6. Is Vera’s silence a consequence of stroke? or was it her own conscious decision after their mother left the family home when they were kids, leaving them in their father’s care? As the sisters pack, sift and clean, memories of their past bubble up, and they must take pains to figure out a space for each other in their present life. Read more.

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Hôtel de la Folie by David Le Bailly

Fans of Patrick Modiano, beware: David Le Bailly has written a moving novel, a poignant tribute to Pià Nerina, this comforting but oh so mysterious grandmother.

Who was this woman, a flamboyant Neapolitan, penniless, uneducated and unmarried, who became a landowner in the most fashionable districts of Paris?

David Le Bailly takes us on an emotional chase, where the slightest remaining evidence and established truths are soon to be shattered. From her native Italy and the famous Hôtel de la Folie to the Riviera, how did Pià Nerina achieve such social status? The price she had to pay was certainly bearing the madness of her daughter – the narrator’s mother. Madness, which one day became unbearable and led to this desperate act: throwing herself out of the window, in front of her grandson, who admired and loved her so much that he went out looking for answers. The whole quest begins at that very moment, on the very first page of the book, and David Le Bailly takes us along on this search for identity and truth, fraught with disillusionment and adventure.

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Pauvre folle by Chloé Delaume

Chloé Delaume is back with a new novel, in which her sarcastic vein has not aged a day. Through Clotilde Mélisse, her fictional double, she magnificently deconstructs the great myth of love in Pauvre folle.
During a train journey to Heidelberg, Clotilde analyzes with great humor and lucidity her relationship with Guillaume, a homosexual man she met ten years earlier, with whom she has created a strong bond that goes beyond friendship. It’s a fusional, obsessive, and destructive relationship that may have a link to some of her wounds from the past.
Read more.
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Proust : Roman Familial by Laure Murat

Winner of this year’s Prix Medicis Essai 2023

In How Proust Can Change Your Life, Alain de Bottom makes the case that Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time was an invaluable source of insight into the workings of love, society, art, and the meaning of existence. De Bottom takes In Search of Lost Time as the basis for a sustained investigation into the power and significance of literature, a project that is not foreign to Laure Murat’s ambition in Proust: Roman Familial, this year’s laureate of the Prix Médicis for nonfiction. Murat’s work is distinguished by managing to sound not only erudite but also incredibly personal as she explores what exactly is at stake in Proust’s search.
Read more.
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Les Alchimies by Sarah Chiche

Paris, 2022. Camille, a forensic doctor, is trying to keep it together. In the immediate aftermath of Covid, she has to face the consequences of the national health care crisis, drained ER services, the swinging moods of her teenage daughter, and the ups and downs of her ex-companion. One evening, she receives an enigmatic email from an unknown sender, alluding to the Spanish painter Francisco José de Goya and his stolen skull. Camille’s parents and her godfather had long harbored a devouring passion for Goya, which she inherited at a young age.

Read more.

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Eunice by Lisette Lombé

Grief, lost love, and a path to self-discovery meet in this debut novel that radiates an uncommun energy.

19-year-old Eunice has the body of an athlete and a broken heart. Her lover just dumped her, and her mother suddenly died while out with some friends. In an attempt to uncover the reasons surrounding her mother’s disappearance, Eunice searches for clues inside her mother’s red diary, found by chance at her former hair saloon. Throughout her investigation, she discovers not only parts of her mother’s life that she was unaware of, but a completely different version of her family history. Her quest leads her to the beautiful Jennah, who helps her find self-acceptance.

The most striking part of Eunice from the very start is the voice of Lisette Lombé, a fellow artist and slam poet. Powerful and rhythmic, Lombé brings the reader into this 2020 story. What is non less striking, is the thirst for life that gives the novel both structure and energy. The energy especially is so overwhelming that we feel this text has been written shortly after the event. It seems hard to admit that over 20 years separate Lisette Lombé from her narrator. Here’s a stark remember that Eunice is a fictional account by a first-rate author!

Eunice by Lisette Lombé, éd Le Seuil, Fiction & Co

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Other recommendations by Albertine Team