Live French Literature Festival 14-21 May 2018 at the Institut français, London

Live French Literature Festival

14-21 May 2018 at the Institut français, London


The Institut français in London is pleased to announce the second edition of Beyond Words, Festival of French Literature: a week-long programme packed with guest appearances of French-language writers recently translated into English, and English-language writers (and a few Europeans) recently translated in France, such as Atiq Rahimi, Marie Darrieussecq, Laurent Gaudé, Eimear McBride, Claire-Louise Bennett, Esther Kinsky.

2018 is an exciting year for French fiction in translation: Leila Slimani’s Goncourt prize winning Lullaby has been published in English by Faber to great critical acclaim, the film adaptation of Pierre Lemaître’s See You Up There has just won 5 Cesar awards, Virginie Despentes’ Vernon Subutex, published by MacLehose, is shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize… The Festival will be showcasing these works and other recently translated books, both in French and in English, through an entirely bilingual series of guest writer appearances, panel discussions, staged reading performances and film adaptations, in total 30 events involving over 40 writers, translators, actors, musicians and journalists.

Beyond Words Festival opens on a historical note on Monday 14 May with writers and journalists Eric Hazan, Lauren Elkin, Mitch Abidor and Paul Mason commemorating the May 1968 Paris uprisings and their legacy. It then launches fully on Tuesday 15 May with several salon style events and readings on translation and European literature today, involving an exciting selection of European writers just published on both sides of the Channel: Claire-Louise Bennett (Fitzcarraldo/L’Olivier), Esther Kinsky (Suhrkamp/Fitzcarraldo/Gallimard) and Jakuta Alikavazovic (L’Olivier/Faber).

Hugely popular in France, prize-winning writers Marie Darrieussecq (Femina Prize), Laurent Gaudé (Goncourt Prize), Atiq Rahimi (Goncourt Prize and English PEN award), Miguel Bonnefoy will be making exceptional London appearances to talk about their recently translated novels (Being Here is Everything, Hell’s GateLullaby, The Patience Stone, Black Sugar) with leading figures of the translation scene such as Daniel Hahn, Daniel Medin, Adriana Hunter, Frank Wynne and Boyd Tonkin on Tuesday 15 May and Wednesday 16 May.

Highlights of Beyond Words are literary conversations between some of the best and newest English- and French-language writers of these last few years: Noemi Lefebvre and Eimear McBride on Thursday 17 May. Throughout the programme, Women Writers and Rebel Ladies will be strongly represented with a musical and live drawing event with graphic novelists Penelope Bagieu, Bryan and Mary Talbot on Tuesday 15 May, as well as conversations with great women writers such as Marie Darrieussecq and Leila Slimani. In a closing event celebrating the 2018 Man Booker International Prize, a performance of staged and musical readings from Virginie Despentes’ shortlisted Vernon Subutex will take place on Monday 21 May.

Further highlights and opportunities to discover new voices include a focus on Publishing à la française on Wednesday 16 May, with exceptional pop-up readings from famous French writers published by the late Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens (such as Georges Perec, Emmanuel Carrère, Marguerite Duras and Olivier Cadiot), and an evening of readings and performances around the literary ties that bind us with Fresh Voices in French Fiction on Thursday 17 May (with Noemi Lefebvre, Pierre Senges and Hélène Frederick).

Translation is at the heart of the festival programme, as an essential link between worlds and as a key element of French and British book cultures: with the presence not only of leading and emerging translators, and no less than three former Man Booker international judges, but also a choice of writers who are translators themselves (Marie Darrieussecq has translated Virginia Woolf into French, Jakuta Alikavazovic has translated Ben Lerner into French, Esther Kinsky has translated Olga Tokarczuk into German, Frédéric Boyer has translated Shakespeare into French).

Film and theatre adaptations include screenings of See You Up There (Pierre Lemaître), Phantom of the Paradise (Gaston Leroux), The Red Collar (Jean-Christophe Rufin) and Based on a True Story (Delphine de Vigan) in the Ciné Lumière, and for Proust lovers and theatre goers, an exciting Proust in just an hour performance by Véronique Aubouy and a staged reading of Iane Soliane’s Bamako-Paris on Friday 18 May.

Among the events:

– Wednesday 16 May, 8pm, Publishing à la française: an evening of pop-up readings taken from exciting, poetic and bizarre French writers published by the great filmmaker and publisher Paul Otchakovsky-Laurens, including formidable names such as Olivier Cadiot, Georges Perec or Marie Darrieussecq

– Thursday 17 May, 6.30pm, Eimear McBride, Noemi Lefebvre & New French Voices: an evening with of readings and performances by up and coming writers Eimear McBride, Noemi Lefebvre, Pierre Senges, known for his radio adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s Bouvard et Pécuchet, as well as for his quirky, poetic Lichtenberg Fragments (Dalkey Archive), and Quebec-born Hélène Frédérick 

Beyond the Institut français walls and outside London, further events with festival guests will take place in 6 other locations across the country: Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol, Bath, Oxford and Liverpool. 

There will be on-site booksellers and book signing sessions throughout the festival, with partner bookshops Librairie La Page, Caravanserail and European Bookshop. To achieve this programme the Institut français has worked closely with publishers of fiction in translation: MacLehose Press, Fitzcarraldo Editions, Les Fugitives, Harvill Secker, Ebury, Bloomsbury, Faber, Gallic Books, Text publishing, Europa editions, Pan McMillan, Dalkey Archive Press, Penguin Random House, Jonathan Cape, Unbound, Kero, POL, Actes Sud, Albin Michel, Verticales, L’Olivier, JC Lattès, Gallimard, Payot&Rivages. With the support of the Friends of the French Institute trust.


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