La Croix: How does La Procure approach the literary re-entry?
Bertrand Deschamps: Like all book professionals, we are in an unprecedented and uncertain situation. Small neighborhood bookstores have rather progressed since deconfinement, but for destination bookstores, it is more complicated.
Have you been able to count on beautiful texts this summer?
Marie-Joseph Biziou: The success of Elizabeth Jane Howard’s beautiful novel, English summers, really nice, and that of the classics put back on the agenda, like The Plague or The Hussar on the Roof. And then those of our own favorites, for example a little Chinese wonder, Snow and crows, de Chi Zijian.
B. D. : Fortunately, we had some interesting titles to defend this summer, like that of Philippe Le Guillou on Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, or the phenomenon biography De Gaulle by Julian Jackson, who was given a second life during the June 18 celebrations. Three recently missing authors have also been in high demand: Jean Raspail, Marc Fumaroli, and Joseph Moingt.
What are your first enthusiasms for this return to school?
M-J. B. : My first choice will be the novel by Marie-Hélène Lafon, Son’s story. I was very moved by this book. The story seems very simple, and it emerges so much emotion … This very literary writer leads her own way with beautiful stories that touch people, a way of talking about the rural world, the province.
→ CRITICAL. “Story of the son”, up there below
I also fell in love with a first novel published by the beautiful publishing house Liana Levi: The spoon, by Dany Héricourt. Incredibly fresh, and which does a lot of good. And yet it begins with mourning. It is a journey, which will lead a young girl to discover something personal, and France and its castles. Much cheerfulness and tenderness. I also really liked the books by Laurent Mauvignier, Franck Bouysse, Carole Martinez and Florence Seyvos, in different genres. A book to remember will also be the novel by Étienne de Montety, The Great Trial, which joins in fiction the story of Father Jacques Hamel.
B. D. : The new story of Jean Rolin, The Bezons Bridge, a wandering and artistic walk along the Seine, is very successful. I find it clever on the part of this author, who has been a major reporter, and therefore often very far from Paris, to write this book in this year of confinement. Of course, the eagerly awaited book by Emmanuel Carrère, or that of Alice Zeniter, the previous one of which we very much liked, on a family memory of harkis. On the non-fiction side, the biography of Churchill by Andrew Roberts and, a little later, a new book by Jean-Luc Marion will be important to advise.
What about foreign novels?
M-J. B. : For me, the wonder is Betty, by the American Tiffany McDaniel. A magnificent, extraordinary book… I would also recommend that of another American, Colson Whitehead, double Pulitzer Prize, who talks about his country, the black condition. A fabulous storyteller. Finally, I am about to book Sublime kingdom from Ghanaian Yaa Gyasi, and I expect a lot from Children of silence from Korean Gong Ji-Young, a novel inspired by real events in an institution for disabled children, which changed a law in the country.