Amazing, newer French novels that are not available in English translation?
May 20, 2012 9:28 AM   Subscribe

Amazing, newer French novels that are not available in English translation?

I studied French for about five years (a while ago) and have the basics down, but have let it go to waste over the years.

I'd like to read a French novel from the past 50 or so years that preferably doesn't have an English translation (so not tempted to just buy in English and lazily compare texts).

I'm open to any suggestions of novels that you've enjoyed, but I'd like to read something with heavy descriptions of places in France, maybe something with a flaneur-type vibe to it?

Other than that, I'd love the recommendations! (Level of French in the novel is not important -- the more difficult the better, as I'd like the challenge!)
posted by Cwell to Writing & Language (6 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I love Toussaint (in English, my French is not good enough to read at that level) and it appears he has a new book out which has yet to be published in translation.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:35 AM on May 20, 2012

I can't say anything about the style or subject matter of the new book, but previous books have a flaneur-type vibe to them, though this extends to China, Japan, Italy, etc. It is possible (and likely) that L'Urgence et la Patience continues this trend.
posted by Felicity Rilke at 10:37 AM on May 20, 2012

You might try the romancier populaire René Fallet. I read Le braconnier de Dieu and thought it was a lot of fun, Difficulty level: lots of slang and some Bourbon dialect. (To the best of my recollection he usually explains the dialect.) I think most of his novels are set in rural Bourbon. I've always wanted to read more of his books, but I never have.

(One warning: I can imagine some people hating his writing style, even though I really enjoyed it.)
posted by nangar at 11:02 AM on May 20, 2012

Not a novel and not set in France, but the ultimate flâneur book: L'usage du monde, by Swiss writer Nicolas Bouvier, is a memoir of the author's trip (in a Fiat 500!) from Belgrade to the Khyber Pass in 1953-1954. It's a cult book in francophone countries and was not translated in English, for unfathomable reasons (MeFites working in US/UK publishing, please take note). Bouvier's description of Iran and Afghanistan in the early 50s is quite extraordinary, including for its contemporary echoes (early US involvement etc.).
posted by elgilito at 1:08 PM on May 20, 2012 [4 favorites]

That's a lot of qualifications.

So I'm going to mostly ignore them and recommend my favorite author: Raymond Queneau's "Pierrot Mon Ami" is 70 years old and available in translation (is it that hard to just not buy the translation?). You could call the main character a "flaneur". "Heavy descriptions", I don't know. Who cares? It's wonderful.
posted by bfields at 1:14 PM on May 20, 2012

Erratum: a fellow MeFite just informed me that L'Usage du monde was actually translated in 2009 (finally!) as The way of the world.
posted by elgilito at 3:19 PM on May 20, 2012

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