PEN World Voices Recap: Laurence Cossé and Hervé Le Tellier

Yesterday, I attended the second “lunch time literary conversation” at Maison Française. The panelists were French authors Laurence Cossé and Hervé Le Tellier, who both had a bit more chemistry and common ground to speak from than the previous day’s panelists. I recapped the event for The L Magazine here. Here’s the start:

“I read a lot of novels—only great novels. I attach no importance to novelty, so I’m actually very liberated.” So explained, via interpreter, the dignified and elegant French author Laurence Cossé, a former journalist and bitingly satirical novelist of numerous works of fiction, many of which are available in English. Her most recent novel to be translated, A Novel Bookstore, is deeply interested with the process of taste-making for the erudite—the manner in which the serious reader of discrimination selects the novels that will occupy her time. This makes for an interesting topic of conversation, particularly when in discussion with the multi-talented Hervé Le Tellier, who besides working as a linguist, food critic, teacher, and mathematician, is also the author of over a dozen works of poetry and fiction, and a member of the famously selective, playfully avant-garde French literary collective Oulipo.

Tonight, I’m off to the Westbeth Arts Center for “A Literary Safari,” which will certainly be more interactive than most PEN events and tomorrow, there’s a whole day of translation related panels which I will be cheerfully taking the day off for. So keep it on this channel.


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