French Women Writers
French Women Authors
Katherine Pancol is a Moroccan-born, female French novelist who currently resides in Paris, France. She typically writes about women, and everyday subjects such as relationships and family. Borrowing from American influences, her style is described as “action packed and fast-paced.” In 2006, her novel The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles won the “Prix de Maison de la Presse” award, which is awarded to the novel with the highest distribution in the country. In 2008, it was the 6th highest-selling book in France, earning it the “Le Figaro Littéraire” award. It has been translated into English, Russian, Chinese, Ukrainian, Polish, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese, Latvian and Norwegian. As of 2011, Ms. Pancol was number one in the rankings for best-selling female French author. Her latest book is called Les ecureuils de Central Park sont tristes le lundi, which means “Central Park’s Squirrels Are Sad on Mondays.” It is a sequel to The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles, and was published April, 2010. Learn more about Katherine Pancol on her website.
Simone de Beauvoir is one of the most well-known French female authors who have had their work translated into English. She not only wrote novels, but also essays, biographies, an autobiography, and monographs on various issues. Additionally, she was a political activist, feminist theorist, social theorist, public intellectual, and a philosopher. In 1954, Simone won the “Prix Goncourt” for her novel Les Mandarins (“The Mandarins”), which tells the story of a group of French intellectuals who try to discover what role intellectuals will play in shaping the political landscape of a post-World War II world. Simone is thought by some to be the “mother of post-1968 feminism,” and her life has been the inspiration for a number of biographies. The Passerelle Simone-de-Beauvoir is an intricate footbridge across the Seine River in Paris, France that was named in her honor. One of her most well-known novels is called The Second Sex, published in 1949. It discusses contemporary feminism and women’s oppression, as well as analyzing the Western idea of the “woman.” It can be found translated into English on Amazon.
French Publishing Houses
Mercure de France is a famous French publishing house; its name is derived from a well-known gazette and literary magazine called the Mercure Galant, first published in the 17th century. After being suppressed during Napoleon’s period of ruling (until 1815), the publication ended permanently in 1825. However, in 1894, the name was revived as a publishing house. Since then, they have been responsible for the publication of numerous novels and anthologies, including general literature, poetry, “self-portrait” pieces (written works accompanied by drawings, pictures, or other images), and historical memoirs. It has won a number of literary awards. You can view a list of titles and learn more about them at their website: http://www.mercuredefrance.fr/.
French Literary Awards
The “Prix Goncourt” is the most prestigious literary prize in France, and is awarded to the author of “the best and most imaginative prose work of the year.” Since 1903, the Goncourt Literary Society has bestowed this award upon one an outstanding author each year. On November 2, 2009, French novelist and playwright Marie Ndiaye won the award for her book titled Trois Femmes Puissantes (“Three Powerful Women”). Marie was the first black woman to ever win the Goncourt, and also the first woman to win the prize since 1998. Her award-winning book explores the themes of betrayal, familial relationships, and illegal immigration in Africa. Through this story of three women, readers see “how ordinary women discover unimagined reserves of strength, even as their humanity is chipped away.”A list of books that have earned the “Prix Goncourt” in previous years can be found here. The official website for the Goncourt Literary Society is http://www.academie-goncourt.fr/.
The “Prix Femina” is a French literary prize of which the deciding jury is composed exclusively of women. It was originally created in 1904 as an alternative for the “Prix Goncourt” award, which was not commonly awarded to female authors during that time. In the modern day, it is awarded each November to the author of the best novel published in France for that year. The winner can be either male or female. The most recent female winner is novelist and philosopher Gwenaëlle Aubry, who was awarded the “Prix Femina” for her novel, Personne. It is a true story of her father, who suffered from manic depression. A list of winners of the “Prix Femina” can be found at http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/477412/Prix-Femina.
Page compiled by Victoria Shockley on June 25, 2012. Victoria is the Assistant Editor for Women Writers, Women Books, as well as a freelance writer and editor. She’s currently in her sophomore year at North Carolina State University in Raleigh and is majoring in English with a concentration in language and writing.
Visit Victoria’s website at http://victoriashockleywrites.wordpress.com/.
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