Trans. by Michael Lucey
France: Jan. 2, 2014 | Le Seuil
U.S.: May 5, 2017 | FSG
This gritty, heart-rending autobiographical novel focuses on a boy growing up in a poverty-stricken town in northern France in the 1990s, knowing he is gay but surrounded by homophobia and forced to present himself as “a tough guy”—one who will work in a factory, drink, and fight. Eddy hides his love of clothes, makeup, and theater from his unemployed, alcoholic father and pretends to love soccer and girls, yet his mannerisms and voice betray him to his family and schoolmates. His desire to keep secret the bullying he suffers at school leads him into complicity with his tormenters. As the years pass, escape from home becomes a matter of survival.
Based on a True Story
De Vigan, Delphine
Trans. by George Miller
France: Jan. 4, 2017 | Le livre de poche
U.S.: May 9, 2017 | Bloomsbury U.S.A.
Emotionally shattered after producing a soul-baring book about her family, Delphine becomes increasingly intimate with L., a female ghostwriter who seems to understand and anticipate her innermost thoughts and to have shared many of her passions—films that made an emotional impact and even a teenage crush on the same tennis player. L. keeps her distance from Delphine’s family and partner but insinuates herself into her writing life as Delphine becomes weaker and weaker. Based on a True Story is both a clever, gripping psychodrama about an obsessive, toxic friendship and a literary exploration of the blurred lines between reality and fiction. The book sold a half million copies in France and is being adapted for the big screen by Roman Polanski.
Inheritance From Mother
Trans. by Juliet Winters Carpenter
Japan: 2012 | Chuokoron Shinsa
U.S.: May 2, 2017 | Other Press
Mitsuki Katsura, a language teacher and translator now in her mid-50s, has spent much of her adult life caring for her parents. Her self-centered, demanding mother clings to life long after Mitsuki and her sister Natsuki have begun willing her to die, both for her sake and their own. Mitsuki’s husband is cheating on her with a much younger woman. Flashbacks transpose us to their first meeting in Paris, to Mitsuki’s childhood, and even to her grandmother’s love affair with a young tutor. This absorbing family story, which addresses money and social status in fascinating detail, illustrates the shifting roles of women in Japan through the 20th century, with references to Madame Bovary, Wuthering Heights, and Albert Camus’ The Stranger. First published in installments in the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, it won the Osaragi Jiro Award for the most accomplished book in prose in 2012.
Hadriana in All My Dreams
Trans. by Kaiama L. Glover
France: 1988 | Gallimard
U.S.: May 2, 2017 | Akashic
Zombies, voodoo, and a sex-crazed boy–turned-butterfly are all facts of everyday life in Depestre’s port village of Jacmel on the island of Haiti in 1938. Just as Hadriana, a beautiful young Frenchwoman, is about to marry, she is struck down in front of the altar by a mysterious illness. Her wedding becomes her funeral—and what a funeral it is, with carnival drums, cross-dressers, a bonfire, erotic dancing, and more. The narrator, one of Hadriana’s many admirers, is haunted for decades by the mystery of her sudden death and the subsequent disappearance of her body from its grave. This colorful, magic-suffused novel won France’s Prix Renaudot after it was first published in 1988 and appeared in German, Spanish, and Polish decades ago. It is now appearing in English for the first time.
Catherine Hickley is a Berlin-based arts journalist.