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A Summer Reading List from Global Voices French-Language Contributors

Categories: Caribbean, Middle East & North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa, Western Europe, Algeria, Egypt, France, Iran, Martinique, Arts & Culture, Language, Literature
"Summer reading" via nipmuc media center - Public domain [1]

“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 Kowalczuk [2]suggested 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 [3]” 
Charles Baudelaire – “Les fleurs du mal [4]
Arthur Rimbaud – “Poésies [5]
André Gide – “Les faux monnayeurs [6]
André Breton – “Le surréalisme et la peinture”
Albert Camus – “La chute [7]
Eugène Ionesco – “Rhinocéros [8]
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry – “Le petit prince [9]
Jean-Paul Sartre – “L'être et le néant [10]
Simone de Beauvoir – “Le deuxième sexe [11]
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 [12] also suggested a few classics:   

Voltaire – “Candide [13]” (I keep going back to this!) 
Laurent Binet – “HHhH [14]” (stunning in so many ways)
Zola – “Thérèse Raquin [15]” (macabre and ahead of its time as is Candide!).
Yet Francophone literature is also enriched by authors from outside France. Thalia Rahme [16] pointed towards a book from Lebanese-born French author Amine Maalouf [17]. 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 [18] 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 [19]

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

Claire Ulrich [20] 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 [21] 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!