Albertine Book Club’s Winter/Spring 2024 Calendar
“The most fruitful and natural play of the mind, in my opinion, is conversation.” Michel de Montaigne (1533 – 1592)
This winter, we’re looking forward to a series of engaging conversations on Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin; The Life Before Us by Romain Gary; An Honorable Exit by Eric Vuillard, The Devil in The Flesh by Raymond Radiguet, Bound to Violence by Yambo Ouologuem, and Rider on The Rain by Sébastien Japrisot.
This new line up aims to take you on a journey around the Francophone world and its diverse cultures through both classic and contemporary French and Francophone literature. For a few hours each month, change up your routine with books and friends from all the corners of the United States. Albertine Book Club offers a unique opportunity to meet and speak with other Francophiles.
Tuesday, January 23, 2024, at 6pm
Winter in Sokcho by Elisa Shua Dusapin, translated by Aneesa Abbas Higgins, Open letter
It’s winter in Sokcho, a tourist town on the border between South and North Korea. The cold slows everything down. Bodies are red and raw, the fish turn venomous, and beyond the beach guns point out from the North’s watchtowers. A young French Korean woman works as a receptionist in a tired guesthouse. One evening, an unexpected guest arrives: a French cartoonist determined to find inspiration in this desolate landscape.
Tuesday, February 20, 2024, at 6pm
The Life Before Us, by Romain Gary, translated by Ralph Manheim, New Directions
Momo has been one of the ever-changing ragbag of whores’ children at Madame Rosa’s boarding house in Paris ever since he can remember. But when the check that pays for his keep no longer arrives and as Madame Rosa becomes too ill to climb the stairs of their apartment, he is determined to support her any way he can. This sensitive, slightly macabre love story between Momo and Madame Rosa has a supporting cast of transvestites, pimps, and witch doctors from Paris’ immigrant slum, Belleville. Profoundly moving, The Life Before Us won France’s premier literary prize, the Prix Goncourt.
Tuesday, March 19, 2024, at 6pm
An Honorable Exit by Eric Vuillard, translated by Mark Polizzotti, Other Press
From the award-winning author of The Order of the Day, a piercing account of the lesser-known conflict preceding the Vietnam War that dealt a fatal blow to French colonialism.Delving into the last phase of the First Indochina War (1946–1954), which saw the communist Việt Minh take control of North Vietnam, Éric Vuillard vividly illustrates the attitudes that both enabled French colonial abuses and ultimately led to their defeat and withdrawal. From the Michelin rubber plantation, where horrific working conditions sparked an epidemic of suicides, to the battlefield, a sense of superiority over the “yellow men” pervaded European and American forces. And, as with so many conflicts throughout history, there were key actors with a motivation deeper than nationalism or political ideology—greed.
Tuesday, April 23, 2024, at 6pm
The Devil in The Flesh by Raymond Radiguet, translated by Christopher Moncrieff, Melville House
The Devil in the Flesh, one of the finest, most delicate love stories ever written, is set in Paris during the final year of World War I. The narrator, a sixteen-year-old boy, recounts his love affair with Martha Lacombe, a young woman whose soldier husband is away at the front. With profound insights, he describes his conflicting emotions—the pride of an adolescent on the verge of manhood and the pain of a child thrust too fast into maturity.
The liaison soon becomes a scandal, and their friends, horrified and incredulous, refuse to accept what is happening—even when the affair reaches its tragic climax.
Tuesday, May 21, 2024, at 6pm
Bound to Violence by Yambo Ouologuem, translated by Ralph Manheim, Other Press
This critical edition of the epic 1968 Malian novel explores its enduring literary power and the racist plagiarism scandal that devastated its author, the first African winner of France’s prestigious Renaudot Prize.
An engrossing, tragic tale spanning the thirteenth to the twentieth centuries, Bound to Violence explores the fate of the imaginary empire of Nakem and the dynasty of the Saïfs, who reigned there as devious masters. While the novel was initially praised as an insider’s guide to and critique of African history, with its vivid descriptions of the brutality of local rulers and the slave trade, Yambo Ouologuem’s biting satire goes far beyond his native land. Through the society of Nakem, he paints a universally relevant portrait of sex, violence, and power in human relationships.
Tuesday, June 18. 2024, at 6pm
Rider on The Rain by Sébastien Japrisot, translated by Linda Coverdale, Gallic Books
Described as ‘the Graham Greene of France’ by The Independent, cult French noir writer Japrisot brings us a stylish thriller about revenge.
The bus never stops in Le Cap-des-Pins. Not in autumn, when the small Riviera resort is deserted. Except today, when a man with a red bag and a disconcerting stare steps out into the rain. His arrival will throw the life of young housewife Mellie Mau into disarray. After surviving a horrific attack, she has a dark secret to hide. But a stranger at a wedding, the enigmatic American Harry Dobbs, is determined to get the truth out of her, leading her into a game of cat and mouse with dangerous consequences …