"When I read Céline I thought, 'Wow, you can do this, you can do anything!' That was a turning point, because it showed me you just have to follow your heart." Antti Tuomainen
Posts tagged "Paris"
To watch over them

To watch over them

The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds. The doctor said he didn’t suffer. The broken body, surrounded by toys, was put inside a grey bag, which they zipped shut. The little girl was still alive when the ambulance arrived. She’d fought like a wild animal. They found signs of a struggle, bits...
Magritte: This is not a biography

Magritte: This is not a biography

Intoxicated by the prospect of a promotion, Charles Singulier allows himself a small extravagance: he buys a bowler hat. But unbeknownst to him, this particular hat was once the property of the great Surrealist René Magritte – and by donning it, he is transported into the artist’s off-kilter world. What’s more, he can’t escape –...
It is us they burn

It is us they burn

In the course of the 2005 youth riots that broke out across France, thirty-two libraries were burnt down or so badly ravaged that their contents had to be thrown away. If one looks at the period covering 1996 to 2013 the tally rises to more than seventy. Libraries come under attack in the banlieues again...
Doctor's orders

Doctor’s orders

A few days ago, I was fished out of the Seine just in the nick of time. Two feet from the bank, to be precise, but that’s more than far enough to sink into the mud and float to the surface a couple of weeks later, limp and soggy as the hunks of bread people...
The dream of a ridiculous man

The dream of a ridiculous man

This is a dark firecracker of a book – a deceptively slim volume dominated by a single, long-drawn voice that holds tremendous evocative powers and contains almost overwhelming quantities of undiluted pain but also startling wisdom. The storyline is almost risible – and the main character is convinced that the murkiest ridicule is his quintessential...
The opposite of Birmingham

The opposite of Birmingham

Paris is a collective masterpiece, perhaps the greatest in the world. Yet it is not a place for individual wonders, and many visitors may feel the kind of disappointment that I did on my first visit: of the world-famous attractions only the Eiffel Tower, the Opéra and the Louvre colonnade really live up to their...
I, Octavio

I, Octavio

The day I finished my degree in modern literature at the Sorbonne in May 2010, I was called before a board of examiners to present my dissertation on the ‘engaged literature’ of the interwar period. After I had spoken for three hours, I was awarded my MA. I went off to celebrate with friends from...
All true stories are fiction

All true stories are fiction

A few weeks ago, when I was in London to present my book about Moscow, I was asked – like many a debut author – how much of the story was based on my own experience. This was just after my first public reading, I was still shaken, and I blurted out a clumsy response...
Not for the ordinary reader

Not for the ordinary reader

Émile Zola thoroughly enjoyed being the bête noire of French letters and the gadfly of the literary imagination, constantly challenging what writing, novel writing in particular, was all about. He was unflinching in his project of redefining literature as an enterprise of scientific scrutiny into society’s innards and gutters. He became the leading figure of...
Fleet of word and deed

Fleet of word and deed

We know perhaps too much about Paul Morand, and certainly too little. Distillations of his being, his writer’s essence and his place in history most often focus on his celebrated friendships with Chanel and Proust, his occasionally bombastic, somewhat affected and at times self-glorifying public persona, his casual intolerance of much that did not conform...