Mathias Énard is a French writer. He was born in France in 1972, and visited, traveled and lived in various Arab-Muslim countries, including Lebanon, Syria and Iran. He studied Persian and Arabic, and in 2003 he settled in Barcelona, where he serves as an Arabic lecturer at the university. He has published nine books, which have been widely acclaimed and won numerous awards, the most known of which are “Zone” (2008) and “Compass”, which won the Goncourt Prize in 2015.
Véronique Bizot is a French writer. She was born in Paris in 1958. Bizot published two collections of short stories, Les Sangliers (2005) and Les Jardiniers (2008). Her first novel, My Coronation (2010), won the Lilas Prize and the Grand Prize from SGDL, the writers’ association in France.
Guy de Maupassant (1850-1893) wrote in his lifetime nearly 300 short stories, and with their distinct style, he became one of the masters of the short story. Shaded with irony, de Maupassant’s stories illuminate parts of the human mind and soul, and find unfamiliar ones, threatening even. This way, the gaps between what the characters represent exteriorly, socially or “publicly,” from who they “truly” are, are being constantly fought over. And the result? Arguments and quarrels that create narrative drama, big as small, which conclude mostly with a twist right with the ending.
Irène Némirovsky was a French writer. She was born in Kiev in 1903 to Leon Némirovsky, a wealthy Jewish banker and lived with her parents in St. Petersburg. Némirovsky wrote 38 short stories, a biography of Chekhov’s life, and nine novels, most famous of which is Suite Française, published after her death to international acclaim. Némirovsky was brought up by a French nanny from who she learned the French language and culture. She also spoke Russian, Yiddish, Basque, Finnish, Polish, and English. In 1918, due to the Communist revolution, Némirovsky’s family was forced to flee Russia. They lived in Finland for a year and settled in Paris in 1919. Irène began writing at the age of 18, before enrolling to literature studies at the Sorbonne. She graduated with honors in 1920 and wrote short stories for newspapers and magazines. Her first novel, L’Enfant Génial , was published in 1928 and was considered anti-Semitic. She later admitted that she regrets writing it. In 1926, she married banker Michel Epstein, and they had two daughters, Denise (1929) and Elizabeth (1937). In 1929, she published David Golder. The work was an immediate success and was adapted into film by director Julien Duvivier. Irène considered herself French. She wrote for Candide and Gringoire magazines, which were considered anti-Semitic, and has been claimed to have friends who ranked high in political parties of the extreme right. However, and despite her recognition among the most prestigious literary circles in Paris, her application for French citizenship was denied in 1938. When World War II broke out, Irène sent her daughters to their nanny’s house in Burgundy and was baptized. Due to anti-Semitic legislation in 1940, her husband had to quit work and her books were banned. With the help of Gringoire’s publisher, she continued to write for the magazine under a pseudonym, until her arrest in 1942. Némirovsky refused to leave France, but was forced to flee Paris upon Nazi occupation. The family was briefly reunited in Issy-l’Evêque, in eastern France. Between 1935-1942 Némirovsky wrote unstoppably: she wrote The Wine of Solitude (1935), Jezebel (1936), All Our Worldly Goods (2005), Suite française (2004), Fire in the Blood (2007), and the collection Dimanche (2004), which were published years after her death. Némirovsky was arrested by the French police on July 13, 1942, as a “stateless person of Jewish descent.” Despite the tremendous efforts of her husband to release her, she died in Auschwitz a month later, apparently of typhus. Her husband has arrested shortly afterward and died in Auschwitz. Their two teenaged daughters found refuge in a Christian family’s house and survived the war, together with a suitcase containing their mother’s manuscripts. The eldest Denise kept the manuscripts away for 50 years thinking they were wartime diaries of her mother’s. The content of the manuscripts was discovered only in the 1990s. The novel Suite Française was published in 2004 and became a bestseller. This novel also won the prestigious Prix Renaudot, granted posthumously for the first time.
Born in Montreal in 1965, Thierry Horguelin lives in Belgium since 1991. During twenty years, he worked as a book reviewer and film critic for numerous magazines and newspapers in Canada, France, and Belgium. He is currently copy-editor in chief at Indications (Brussels), editor and book designer for les éditions Le Cormier (Brussels), and assistant manager of Espace Livres & Création, a Belgian small-press network. Among his publications: Le Voyageur de la nuit (L’Oie de Cravan, 2005); La Nuit sans fin (L’Oie de Cravan, 2009); Choses vues (L’Oie de Cravan, 2012); Alphabétiques (L’Herbe qui tremble, 2015). La Nuit sans fin received the Franz de Wever Book Award in 2009. Horguelin’s website: locus-solus-fr.net.
Gilles Rozier was born in Grenoble, France in 1963. He Published seven novels, the most famous of which, Un Amour sans Résistance, has been translated into 12 languages. Rozier has a P.h.D. in Yiddish literature and from 1994 to 2014 he was the director of Maison de la Culture Yiddish in Paris, the largest Yiddish library and cultural center in Europe. He is also a translator from Yiddish and Hebrew into French and writes poetry in Yiddish. In 2008 Rozier founded a periodical of contemporary Yiddish literature, Gilgulim. Its fourth issue was published in 2015.
Sylvain Tesson, born in 1972, has been traveling the world for over twenty years. He is a “écrivain-voyageur,” a traveling writer, that is to say, he bases a substantial part of his writing on personal experiences from the journeys on which he embarks. In other words, the way he observes the world as a traveler is evident in the style and content of his novels and short stories (as opposed to the genre of travel fiction, which does not necessitate the physical exploration of the world, but rather, sometimes, only a spirit rich with imagination). Upon completing his studies, Tesson embarked on a trip across the world on his bicycle along with his friend, writer and documentary filmmaker Alexandre Poussin. It is with this same friend that he crossed the Himalaya on foot (together covering 5,000 kilometers in five months!), and he also crossed the steppes of central Asia while horseback riding. All these expeditions, and many others, have given rise to an expansive body of literary work. Tesson is also an amateur archeologist, and it is this hobby that led him to participate in archeological expeditions in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Between 2003 and 2004, he traveled by bicycle, on foot, and in vehicles to Siberia, Tibet, and India. This prolonged journey is also documented in his books. In 2010, he lived in complete seclusion in a cabin in south Siberia, on the shores of Lake Baikal. This period is depicted in his award-winning autobiographical book, The Consolations of the Forest: Alone in a Cabin on the Siberian Taiga. Alongside his documentary-essay writing, Tesson also writes short stories and film reviews in various magazines. In 2009 he won the Prix Goncourt for short stories, and the Prix Médicis for essays. Among this adventurous writer’s many hobbies was roof climbing; but in August of 2014 he suffered a ten-meter fall, was severely injured and hospitalized in a state of coma, from which he awoke ten days later without brain damage. Tesson revealed in many interviews that this accident, which had taken a heavy physical and mental toll on him, had called into question the very urge to challenge death that has accompanied him throughout his life. His short stories are bursting with absurdity and humor, his writing is poetic, his language rich and well-honed. Reading Tesson is demanding and intense. His father is the acclaimed theater critic and television host Philippe Tesson.
Marcel Aymé was born in 1902 in Burgundy, France. Orphaned at a young age, he was raised by his grandfather in a countryside village. In 1923, after completing his military service, he settled in Paris and worked as a bank teller, an insurance salesman, a journalist, and a newspaper editor. His first novel was published in 1925, and in 1928 he won the Prix Renaudot for his novel, The Hollow Field. Among his most renowned books are La Rue sans nom (The Street with no Name), The Green Mare (which was also adapted into a successful film), The Barkeep of Blémont, Uranus, and En arrière (Backward). He was also a devoted children’s fiction writer and dramatist. Aymé died in 1967. The first edition of his collected writings was published in France in the prestigious series “La Pléiade.”
Few writers have so decisively mastered modern writing as did Gustave Flaubert (1821-1880). Flaubert, who was known for his temperament, devoted his life to writing, in the full sense of the word: he wrote and meticulously re-wrote his manuscripts, and published scarcely. In addition to the novels he has written, including Madame Bovary and Bouvard et Pecuchet (a novel which he did not complete in his lifetime), Flaubert also wrote novellas and short stories, most familiar of which is “A Simple Soul.” After the publication of the first chapters from Madame Bovary in the newspaper, Flaubert was put charged on “damaging public morality” and was put to trial. After winning the trial, the complete novel was published to great success. To this day, Madame Bovary is considered a cornerstone for modern realism. After his death, Flaubert’s diaries and letters were published and revealing in great detail the psychological drama involved in the craft to which Flaubert devoted his life.
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