A Summer Reading List from Global Voices French-Language Contributors

"Summer reading" via nipmuc media center - Public domain

“Summer reading” from Nipmuc media center. Public domain

Summer is upon us. It seems that in what has now become a worldwide tradition, a reading list is de rigueur before you step away from all your online devices and return to a more slow-paced type of readings.

If one of your goals for this summer was to get (re)acquainted with Francophone authors, look no further. Without further ado, here are a few book suggestions from our GV Francophone contributors.     

Andrew Kowalczuksuggested the following top ten of books originally written in French. The list is a collection of some of the most outstanding opus from (mostly) contemporary Francophone authors. Most of them are also available in English (see links for translations): 

Alexandre Dumas – “Le Comte de Monte-Cristo” 
Charles Baudelaire – “Les fleurs du mal
Arthur Rimbaud – “Poésies
André Gide – “Les faux monnayeurs
André Breton – “Le surréalisme et la peinture”
Albert Camus – “La chute
Eugène Ionesco – “Rhinocéros
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – “Le petit prince
Jean-Paul Sartre – “L'être et le néant
Simone de Beauvoir – “Le deuxième sexe
Michel Foucault – “L'archéologie du savoir”
Benoît Mandelbrot – “Les objets fractals: Forme, hasard et dimension”   

That is already quite a mind-opening reading list to pick from. Yet, if you are yearning for something even more timeless, Jane Ellis also suggested a few classics:   

Voltaire – “Candide” (I keep going back to this!) 
Laurent Binet – “HHhH” (stunning in so many ways)
Zola – “Thérèse Raquin” (macabre and ahead of its time as is Candide!).
Yet Francophone literature is also enriched by authors from outside France. Thalia Rahme pointed towards a book from Lebanese-born French author Amine Maalouf. She also takes the opportunity to recommend books on her current reading list that are not from Francophone authors such as, Colombia's Gabriel Garcia Marquez or Iran's Khaled Hosseini:  
Amine Maalouf -  “Identites Meurtrieres” (for his take on dual culture); “Samarcande” (on Iranian literature and poetry),  
Gabriel Garcia Marquez – “100 Years of Solitude”  
Khaled Hosseini – “The Kite Runner”; “1000 Splendid Suns”; “And the Mountains Echoed”

Building on Thalia's list, Alison Mcmillan recommends a few remarkable novels from Asian authors: 

Vikram Seth – “A Suitable Boy”
Shashi Tharoor – “The Great Indian Novel”
Salman Rushdie – “Midnight's Children”
Upamanyu Chatterjee – “English, August”
Kiran Desai – “The Inheritance of Loss”

front cover art for the book A Suitable Boy - Used as fair use

Front cover art for the book “A Suitable Boy.” Fair use

Claire Ulrich also favored “A Suitable Boy” as a must-read. She also suggested some poetry to go with the novels: 

Oh, “A Suitable Boy” is one of my favorite! I am in my “poetry” phase and I cannot let go of Paul Eluard lately. I am also re-reading the biography of Gabriel Garcia Marquez , “Living to Tell the Tale” 
And for what it's worth, here is my own list of French books to read this summer: 
Gaston Leroux – “Le Mystère de la chambre jaune”
Jean-Dominique Bauby – “Le Scaphandre et le Papillon”
Anne Roumanoff – “Le couple: Petits délices de la vie à deux”
Raymond Devos – “Matière à rire”  
Victor Hugo – “Les Comtemplations” 
Happy reading! And don't forget the sunscreen!

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