Modern-day 'salon littéraire' gets off to a great start at the Institut Français

Tuesday 24 November 2015

Maylis de Kerangal’s Naissance d’un pont, winner of the 2010 Médicis prize, was the novel chosen for discussion at the first of this season’s Reading Groups, a modern-day version of the salon littéraire, held at the Institut Français and chaired by Dr Dominic Glynn, the IMLR’s Lecturer in French.

Engaging with the work of living writers is particularly fascinating as it allows us to be among the first to comment and review and, as such, influence which texts will stand the test of time. Given that Maylis de Kerangal’s work is attracting ever-increasing critical attention, it seems highly unlikely that hers will fall by the wayside. From her first published novel, Je marche sous un ciel de traîne (2000), to her most recent work, A ce stade de la nuit (2014), de Kerangal describes highly evocative places or spaces in detailed, documentary fashion. In Réparer les vivants (2013), for instance, the focus is on a hospital intensive care ward, but what is most surprising, despite the novel ostensibly dealing with the death of a young man, is how characters’ lives are featured and given space to breathe. Among the themes discussed were the metaphor of the bridge, compromise and idealism, comparisons between French and American literatures as well as what it might mean to write fiction in the 21st century.

The Reading Group next meets on 3 December, when the text for discussion will be Emmanuel Carrière’s Limonov. Texts for future meetings include:
Michel Houellebecq: La carte et le territoire (14 January 2016)
Georges Perec: Le Condottière (11 February 2016)
Fred Vargas: L’armée furieuse (10 March 2016)
Michel Tournier: Le roi des aulnes (7 April 2016)
Alain Mabankou: Lumières de Pointe-Noir (12 May 2016)
Lola Lafon: Nous sommes les oiseaux de la tempête qui s’annonce (16 June 2016)

The Reading Group meets on Thursdays, from 19.00 to 20.30 at the Institut Français. All are welcome to participate. Follow Dominic Glynn’s blog at!Maylis-de-Kerangal’s-Naissance-d’un-pont-Birth-of-a-literary-monument/c1kod/56509b740cf23c042f90d021