6 Delicious Books From Francophone Literature: Reading in Translation

Curated at our Vasant Vihar store, with input and guidance from the enthusiasts at the French embassy, Kunzum boasts of an impressive collection of French Literature that goes beyond the five canonised classics we all commonly know. Contemporary fiction from within and beyond France, from stories that draw upon Tantric and Buddhist mythologies to narratives on race and identity, these are six translated novels that will introduce you to the many cultures and lives that are a distinct part of the Francophone community.

Efina by Noëlle Revaz

Written in 2009, Swiss author Noëlle Revaz’s Efina takes us to an unabashedly dysfunctional relationship between T., an ageing actor, and Efina, a passionate theatregoer. As the affair sours and twists, turning from obsessive passion to repulsion and back to desperate desire, Revaz’s novel employs the chaotically looped nature of the relationship to explore nuanced themes of love and art, all the while showcasing her singularly precise and refreshingly original prose. 

My Mother’s Tears by Michel Layaz

Written with humour and tenderness, Swiss author Layaz’s My Mother’s Tears follows a middle-aged protagonist/narrator as he returns to his mother’s house after her death to clean his childhood home. Spread across 30 short bursts of chapters, the novel softly raises and caresses each talismanic object and childhood memory with the warmth of long-loving and fresh grieving. An attempt to understand and grow closer to his mother as well as a poignant confrontation with his past, the novel chronicles the posthumous excavations conducted by children after the passing of a parent.   

The King of The Mountain by Martine Le Coz

French novelist Le Coz’s The King of The Mountain, employs Buddhist, Tantric and Jain mythology, rewriting the epic genre through a marginalised lens. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, the novel follows Prince Jaybhardan, heir to a kingdom, who rejects his prophesied warrior path, instead embracing his spiritual calling to become Salhesh, the ‘King of the Mountain’. A significant contribution to Francophone literature, Le Coz’s novel draws upon an oral tradition of the Dalit community, presenting a unique cultural perspective by intermixing a variety of alternate and minority mythologies. 

The Dancing Other by Suzanne Dracius

Dracius’ urgent novel takes us to a protagonist who is too dark-skinned for mainland France and not coloured enough for Martinique. Taking us to two distinct Francophone communities, in localities that flesh out and stretch between the poles of the coloniser-colonised axis, Martinique-born Dracius’ is a narrative on race and the dislocations faced by the multiracial immigrant, placed both outside, inside and often in the liminal, edged between belonging and alienation. A celebration of multiculturalism, it wonderfully weaves in Creole and Caribbean traditions in its portrayal of protagonist Rehvanna and the breadth of her identity. 

Twilight of Torment by Léonora Miano

Miano, born and raised in the central African country of Cameroon, is a critically acclaimed contemporary Francophone author as well as the face of afropéenne literature, one that recognises a blended European and African identity as well as the deprivations, additions and historical contexts attached to it. Twilight of Torment is a two-part novel that takes us to four women who all speak to one man, curiously related to them in intimate ways. It is an exploration of the desert, its people, and specifically the presentations of gendered identities in Sub-Saharan Africa. With sections that are described as a jazz chorus, it is a cacophonous melody of narratives that move through themes of race, sexuality, femininity, self-love and the violating “intrusion of history” in the lives of the community.  As each woman represents a different generation and epoch, each introduces a distinct language as well as an individual register of values and sound, creating a tapestry that represents the many women of Sub-Sahara.

The Master by Patrick Rambaud

A bildungsroman of the highest order, Rambaud’s The Master takes us to fifth-century BCE China, specifically to Zhuang Zhou, one of the greatest Chinese philosophers and the progenitor of Taoism. A mixture of lawless instability, insatiable imperial might and vibrant colour, Rambaud’s China of Yore is alive and visceral, and yet fable-esque, owing to a narrative mode that attempts to present the life of Zhuang Zhou as a series of parables, measured in lessons learned and wisdom gleaned. Located between myth and reality, The Master summons both history and legend in its novelised portraiture of the man and his school of thought. 

Pick up any of these 6 Delicious Books From Francophone Literature from any Kunzum store or WhatsApp +91.8800200280 to order. Buy the book(s) and the coffee’s on us.

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