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Guest Of Honour At The 66th International Belgrade Book Fair

French Season In The Hues Of A Late Summer

Speaking during last October’s handover of the open book of the Fair, French Ambassador Pierre Cochard, representing the guest of honour country at the 2023 Belgrade Book Fair, said: “I look forward joyously to France’s guest appearance, and this will simultaneously be an opportunity for the French Institute in Serbia and the Embassy of France to highlight cooperation with young people. They will promptly use travel books, alongside comics, audio and digital editions, and read literary fiction. We will suggest that all partners, including theatres and museums, pay attention to French creativity and make it a beautiful French season in the hues of a late summer.

Here we exclusively present to you some of the French authors who’ve agreed to participate in the 66th International Belgrade Book Fair, which will this year be held between 21st and 29th October.

CATHERINE CUSSET

Catherine Cusset was born in Paris in 1963. She graduated from the École normale supérieure, before receiving two PhDs, one from Paris Diderot University, with a dissertation on the works of the Marquis de Sade, and one from Yale University, where she continued to teach 18th-century French literature from 1991 to 2002.

Her links to America would go on to influence the themes of her novels, in which she questions the cultural differences between French and American people, as well as between the countries themselves, but she would also delve deeply into family matters and reexamine the unavoidable motive of passion.

She made her debut on the literary scene with the 1990 novel La Blouse Roumaine. Although most of her written works received awards, it can be said that her L’autre qu’on adorait novels, all published in 2016, proved the most successful, having been declared the best novels by young people from the selection for the prestigious Goncourt prize in 4 countries of the world: Belgium, Romania, Slovenia and Sweden. She received the prestigious Prix Anaïs Nin for her novel Vie de David Hockney.

Catherine’s work have been translated into more than 22 languages. Here novel Jouir (Uživati) has been translated into Serbian (Prosveta, 2004, translated by Ivana Hadži-Popović.)

Visitors to this year’s Belgrade Book Fair will have an opportunity to discuss her works, particularly the novel La Définition du bonheur – The Definition of Happiness [Definicija sreće] (Prometej, Novi Sad, 2023, translated by Sara Ralić).


ERIC-EMMANUEL SCHMITT

Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt was born in Lyon in 1960. He initially studied music and literature, only to graduate from the Ecole normale supérieure in philosophy in 1983, where he also earned his Ph.D in 1987. Six years later, following wonderful responses to his literary work, he decided to devote himself fully to writing. Three translations of his titles will be presented at the book fair: the novel [Udeo drugog] (Clio, 2023); and two children’s books: L’île de la liberté [Ostrvo slobode/The Liberty Island] and L’Éléphant qui ne respectait rien [Sebično slonče/Selfish Elephant] (Odiseja, 2023).

Schmidt is first and foremost a playwright. He has received the award of the French Academy of Sciences for his entire theatrical opus, while many of his works – from the first one to be performed in 1991 and to this day – have been awarded multiple times, with many more nominations. Over the course of the three months that it showed in Belgrade, an extra ticket was highly sought after for every performance of his famous piece Enigma Variations. Performance rights were subsequently bought for many countries: Finland, Greece, Japan, Poland, Argentina, Russia… and everywhere the main role is performed by famous stars and the best actors of national theatres.

All three of his short stories comprising the Trilogy of the Unseen – Oscar and the Lady in Pink [gospođa u ružičastom mantilu], M. Ibrahim and the flowers of the Koran [Gospodin Ibrahim i cvetovi Kurana] and Milarepa, which have been published in Serbian by Laguna – are performed on theatrd stages worldwide. He is also known to Serbian theatregoers for the dramas The Visitor [Posetilac], Einstein’s Betrayal [Ajnštajnova izdaja], Enigma Variations [Zagonetne varijacije], Minor Marital Crimes [Mali bračni zločini] etc.

During his stay in Belgrade, Eric-Emmanuel Schmidt is scheduled to attend a performance of his piece Si on recommençait [Da krenemo ispočetka/If we Started Again] at Opera & Theatre Madlenianum.


FLORENCE AUBRY

Florence Aubry is a French writer and activist. She was born in 1968 in Besançon, where she completed undergraduate studies in language and literature, before earning a master’s degree in geography. In Apart from writing, Aubry also works as a school teacher and librarian.

She is a member of the Charte des Auteurs et Illustrators de Jeunesse, an association of authors and illustrators that advocates equal rights of writers and illustrators of children’s books.

The author of more than 20 books for children and young adults, she is a winner of several prestigious French awards. Her works deal with serious and sensitive issues, such as suicide (La Fille du monstre, 2019), alcoholism among adolescents (Biture express, 2010), poor living conditions for animals in captivity (Titan Noir, 2018), and so on.

Her novel Titan Noir [Crni Titan/Black Titan] (published in Serbian by Odiseja, 2023, translated by Svetlana Stojanović) is Aubry’s first work to have been translated into Serbian. It has also won several awards, the French Booksellers Award (2019), the Petruis Award for the best youth novel (2019) and the Maya Award (2020), the first French award presented for literary works that contribute to the defending animal rights.


JULIA CAGÉ

Julia Cagé is a French economist. Her main areas of interest are development economics, political economy and economic history.

Cagé is a professor of economics at the Sciences Po University’s Department of Economics in Paris. She is a winner of the 2023 Best Young French Economist Award. One of the directors of the Laboratory for Interdisciplinary Evaluation of Public Policies (LIEPP) of the research group “Evaluation of Democracy”, she is also a research associate of the Centre for Economic and Political Research (CEPR) and head of CEPR’s research and policy network on “Media Pluralism”. She is the wife of famous French economist Thomas Piketty.

Akademska knjiga published her book Saving the Media. Capitalism, Crowdfunding and Democracy (Sauver les médias) in 2016, which was translated from French by Dušan Janić.

Under the scope of her visit to the International Belgrade Book Fair, Cagé will hold a lecture on media freedom She will be signing her book Saving the Media at the Fair, at the Akademska knjiga stand and the French national stand.


MAGALI LE HUCHE

World-renowned French children’s book author and illustrator Magali Le Huche will be a guest of the Creative Centre at this year’s International Belgrade Book Fair.

She is known to Serbian readers for her audio books about a musical dog, called Peca in Serbian, which are among the most popular children’s books around the world.

The Creative Centre has to date published 11 books from this series, the hero of which is called Paco in the original French, and preparations are underway to publish a Serbian version of the book Peca plays the blues [Peca svira bluz], the original version of which was published recently by Éditions Gallimard.

She achieved great success with her 2021 autobiographical work Nowhere girl, which she both authored and illustrated, and the Serbian translation is also expected to be published by the Creative Centre ahead of this autumn’s Belgrade Book Fair. A touching and humorous comic/graphic book about a teenage girl growing up in the ‘90s who manages to overcome her fear of school by listening to the Beatles. The book received the 2021 Prix Pépite in the category of comics at the Salon du livre jeunesse de Montreuil and a special acknowledgement from the jury of the 2022 Bologna Ragazzi Awards in the category of comic books for primary school children.

Born in Paris in 1979, Magali studied for five years at the Academy of Applied Arts in Strasbourg. She published her first children’s book in 2005 and has since been working continuously as an author and illustrator of children’s books and graphic novels.


MATHIAS ÉNARD

This year’s 66th International Belgrade Book Fair will be opened by French writer Mathias Énard. Born in 1972, he studied Persian and Arabic and spent a long time living in the Middle East, while he is today resident in Barcelona. Énard’s novel Zone, published in Serbian by Akademska knjiga in 2016 and translated by Anđa Petrović, was declared by critics as one of the most original books of the decade and won several French and international literary awards.

As a writer of extraordinary erudition, Énard uses this novel to provide a lot of information about the violent history of the Zone – the states of the former Yugoslavia, Spain, Algeria, Lebanon, Italy. He received the 2012 Goncourt Award for the novel Compass (Boussole), published in Serbian by Akademska knjiga in 2016, translated from French by Tamara Valčić Bulić. Énard is one of the most beloved writers in our region, while he is also among the top experts on the region’s history and culture.

Two other novels of his have been translated into Serbian: Breviary for Pyrotechnicians (Bréviaire des artificiers 2007), translated by Emilija Cerović Mlađa, and Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants (Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d’éléphants, 2010), translated by Ivana Misirlić Bigard. This year’s International Belgrade Book Fair will include a promotion of Énard’s latest novel, The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers Guild (Le Banquet annuel de la Confrérie des fossoyeurs, 2020), translated by Tamara Valčić Bulić and published by Novi Sad-based Akademska knjiga. The same publishing house is also preparing to publish the novel The Perfection of the Shot (La Perfection du tir, 2003), which has been crowned with the prizes Prix des cinq continents de la Francophonie and Prix Edmée-de-La-Rochefoucauld.


THOMAS PIKKETY

We expect the most spectacular event at the Belgrade Book Fair to be the guest appearance of world-renowned economist Thomas Piketty, who drew a lot of attention from the world public when he published the book Capital in the XXI Century (Le capital au XXIe siècle) in 2013, which became a scientific bestseller. More than 2.5 million copies have since been sold worldwide, with this work translated into more than 40 languages.

The main theme of the book is wealth and income inequality in Europe and the United States since the 18th century. Piketty is one of the most vocal advocates of progressive taxation of income and wealth globally in order to reduce inequality around the world. World Bank economist Branko Milanović considers Piketty’s book “one of the groundbreaking books in economic thinking”.

Akademska knjiga published Capital in the XXI Century in Serbian, translated by Kristina Bojanović, in 2015 and has since also published his other books How to Democratise Europe (Pour un traité de démocratisation de l’Europe; co-authored by Antoine Vauchez, Guillaume Sacriste and Stephanie Hennette), translated by Kristina Bojanović; Time for Socialism (Vivement le socialism, 2020) translated by Gorana Prodanović; A Brief History of Equality (Une brève histoire de l’égalité, 2021), also translated by Gorana Prodanović; and Capital and Ideology (Capital et idéologie, 2019) translated by Aleksandar Stojanović. Capital and Ideology is a continuation of the book Capital in the XXI Century. During Piketty’s stay in the Serbian capital, he will make a guest appearance at the International Belgrade Book Fair and give a lecture. He will be signing books at the stand of his Serbian publisher, Akademska knjiga from Novi Sad, and at the French national stand.


TONY VALENTE – TONI VALENTE
Artist & Scriptwriter

Tony Valente gained his start in comic books with Delcourt, illustrating the four-part series Les 4 princes de Ganahan, alongside scriptwriter Rapheël Drommelschlager.

Once the series was completed, Valente began work on his own project, Hana Attori (Soleil Productions), a result of his manga and anime influences.

He next illustrated SPEED Angels (Soleil), together with writer Didier Tarquin, before turning once more to a personal project. The first volume of the French manga series Radiant was published by Ankama.

Valente has the remarkable distinction of having RADIANT as the first and, to date, only manfra (French manga) to be translated into Japanese. Over a million copies of RADIANT have been sold worldwide. Radiant is translated and published in Serbia by publishing house Najkula.

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