A Month of French Authors/Un Mois d’Auteurs Français

Today for the letter K the French authors  Milan Kundera and Maylis de Kerangal

Once again today I feel the weight of the years as I write about Milan Kundera, a great name in French literature. The Czech-born author wrote the renowned L’insoupçonnable légèreté de l’être in 1982. The novel was published in 1984 and became an immediate success. I should even say all the rage. Back then, everyone I knew had to read it. It was new, bold, different. The novel explored several themes and introduced characters who incarnated big human ideas. Among them, Tomas who hesitated between being a womanizer or a passionate lover, while Tereza on the other hand sought true pure love and Sabina lightness.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being is the English translation of this novel. In addition, the American movie director Philip Kaufman adapted it for the big screen, featuring the French actress Juliette Binoche and the British actor Daniel Day-Lewis.

Because nobody, even great writers, can be above criticism I read this interesting article in The Guardian about Kundera’s sexist view on women.


Si vous me lisez en français, vous connaissez obligatoirement Milan Kundera. C’est incontestablement son roman L’insoupçonnable légèreté de l’être qui l’aura fait connaitre. Je me souviens encore de l’engouement que ce roman, inhabituel dans sa forme et contenu, avait suscité lors de sa publication en 1984. Je ne me souviens pas par contre du film avec Juliette Binoche et Daniel Day-Lewis. En recherchant ce billet, je suis tombée sur un article dans The Guardian qui évoque la misogynie et le sexisme de Kundera.

Qu’en pensez-vous? Avez-vous lu Kundera? Ou vu le film inspiré par son best seller L’insoupçonnable légèreté de l’être?




Maylis de Kerangal was born in 1967, in Le Havre in Normandy. Her novels have been very well received in France and are translated in English. Réparer les Vivants or The Heart in its English version, a story about a heart transplant, has been an instant best seller in France. I read this fairly recent review about the novel in the New York Times.  The movie Heal the Living is based on the novel.

But it is Birth Bridge that seems particularly appropriate for an American readership and especially for Californians. The novel is set in a fictional south California town where a fictional bridge is being built, triggering the arrival of a crowd of people from various backgrounds.

Have you read Maylis de Kerangal?



Une de plus dont je n’ai pas lu les romans qui sont pourtant traduits en anglais et disponibles aux US. Son plus grand succès semble être “Réparer les vivants,” adapté au cinéma sous le même titre. Je ne l’ai pas lu mais il me rappelle le livre de Tatiana de Rosnay, “Le Coeur d’Une Autre,” publié en 2009. Ce livre traitait également de la greffe du coeur en adressant aussi la question du donneur et du receveur. Est-ce qu’un coeur vit au-delà de son rôle d’organe? Est-ce que celui ou celle qui reçoit le coeur d’un autre devient un peu l’autre après la greffe?

Mais le roman “Naissance d’un pont” me semble avoir été écrit pour moi 🙂 puisqu’il se situe dans une ville fictive du sud de la Californie et parle de la construction d’un pont tout autant fictif. La critique est mitigée malgré l’accueil positif de la presse. L’avez-vous lu?

La biographie et bibliographie de l’auteure sont disponibles sur le site Babelio. De nombreuses interviews ou critiques de ses romans sont aussi disponibles online.

Cette interview de l’auteure dans Le Monde et cet article dans le New York Times à propos de “The Heart,” la traduction de “Réparer les vivants,” sont intéressants.


Extrait de “Réparer les vivants:”

“Que deviendra l’amour de Juliette une fois que le cœur de Simon recommencera à battre dans un corps inconnu, que deviendra tout ce qui emplissait ce cœur, ses affects lentement déposés en strates depuis le premier jour ou inoculé ça et là dans un élan d’enthousiasme ou un accès de colère, ses amitiés et ses aversions, ses rancunes, sa véhémence, ses inclinations graves et tendres? Que deviendront les salves électriques qui creusaient si fort son cœur quand s’avançait la vague?”

Extrait de “Naissance d’un pont:”

“On aime se dire que la ville était simplement désirable et que donc ils l’ont désirée — tout comme on la désire quand on a quinze ans et qu’on vit loin de tout, engoncé dans la campagne, dans un pauvre bled où le clocher sonne à heure fixe, englué dans ces paysages mornes qui font crever d’ennui, où l’on se couche avec les poules parce qu’il n’y a que ça à foutre alors que ce que l’on voudrait, c’est se faire péter les tympans et briller sur la piste, ou du moins la regarder tout son saoul la nuit durant. Prendre la mesure des lieux.”


See you tomorrow with letter L!

A demain pour la lettre L!

Thank you for reading!

Merci de nous lire!

Good luck if you participate to the A to Z Challenge!

Bonne chance si vous participez au Challenge de A à Z!



  1. Everyday I am presenting a restaurant (or two) Evelyne and I recently visited.

    Kincaid’s Bayhouse (Burlingame, Ca): this is your classic American grill; decent food but spectacular views as Kincaid’s is located next to the SFO runways.
    Very convenient dining location when flying away from the Bay Area.

    Kitchen on San Marco (Jacksonville, Fl) —a gastropub— offers fresh, locally sourced and regional cuisine. Also a good place for a drink after a performance a the historic San Marco theater.

    — Evelyne’s husband.

  2. judithworks says:

    I’ve never read Kundera but now I’m curious – I never hear his name or books mentioned any more.

    • He’s a fantastic author but I must admit that I haven’t read his most recent work. What struck me is the fact that he writes French, a second language, so exceptionally well. Only his first novels were translated from Czech. Thank you, Judith for stopping by.

  3. …a womanizer or a passionate lover? Hmmm. 🙂 –Curt

  4. I’m going to read Birth Bridge. It seems very timely as a bridge is going in nearby as an overpass for the high speed rail.

  5. Hmmm, I’m not a big fan of fiction, but I like bridges. Maybe there’s a connection here. Good job on this series.

  6. Hmmm…the books of Maylis de Kerangal sound interesting; I might have to look up the “Birth Bridge.”

    Like so many others, I read “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” while I was in college, but I have to admit that I didn’t actually like it very much even back then; it was just one of those books that one had to read in order to be part of the “intellectual” crowd, particularly among the literary set. I wonder what they’re reading now?

    • Like you I will read Maylis de Kerangal, probably in French 🙂
      And like you I also think that not so many young people read Kundera now. I actually read more of his books and liked his writing style, back then. I thought of re-reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being, just to see how I feel now.
      In any case, than you for stopping by. I owe you many visits and if I don’t stop as much as I wish it’s only because of lack of time. I will definitely add your challenge to my post-challenge post to encourage people to read about your adventures along the streets of Paris.

      • Thanks, Evelyne. You know, my class is searching for the next book to read, so I am diligently scouring your posts to find something we’d all be interested in! I understand lack of time 🙂 I have so much visiting to do myself, but I’m very scattered this year due to the new format. I’m finding it hard to keep track. Luckily I’m still chancing upon wonderful sites. Thanks too for sharing La livrophage, whose site I am enjoying quite a bit!

  7. I have read The Unbearable Lightness of Being, yes, but why I’ve not heard about these others, I cannot say. Birth Bridge does sound good *added to TBR*

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