Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

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Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby linguaphile » Wed Oct 20, 2021 8:02 pm

Inspired (maybe that's not the right word 8-)) by the French books are rubbish? thread, where a few passing references were made to the fact that there's plenty of books/literature written in the French language besides the books/literature from France itself...

Figured I'd create a thread for recommendations of French-language reading material from elsewhere in the francophonie outside l'Hexagone (yep, I'm consciously avoiding using the term "France" here since the DOM-TOM are technically part of France yet recommendations from them would still totally fit the spirit of this thread...)

Personally I'm particularly interested in hearing about any recommendations from sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and the Mascareignes at the moment, but am definitely open to recommendations for French-language books/literature from any other French-speaking areas as well! :)
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby Le Baron » Wed Oct 20, 2021 10:08 pm

I suppose this must count, but within the last half year I've read three books by Quebec writer Jacques Poulin:
Le Vieux Chagrin
La tournée d'automne
L'Anglais n'est pas une langue magique


When he describes things in nature he sometimes uses words that aren't used in standard French, often because they don't exist in France. He's also known in France.
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby rdearman » Thu Oct 21, 2021 5:49 am

Le Baron wrote:When he describes things in nature he sometimes uses words that aren't used in standard French, often because they don't exist in France.

What doesn't exist? The things or the words?
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby AroAro » Thu Oct 21, 2021 1:38 pm

I can wholeheartedly recommend Maryse Condé from Guadeloupe (not all of her books are set in Caribbean, some are in Africa and France). I think she is a very gifted storyteller, the best book by her I've read so far is "Moi, Tituba sorcière". I've also read several books by Alain Mabanckou from Congo.
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby Le Baron » Thu Oct 21, 2021 3:16 pm

rdearman wrote:
Le Baron wrote:When he describes things in nature he sometimes uses words that aren't used in standard French, often because they don't exist in France.

What doesn't exist? The things or the words?

Both sometimes. Or if the objects do exist universally there seem to be some words used only in Canada; in some cases perhaps from indigenous languages.

In Canada they seem to call a chipmunk (tamia in standard French) un suisse.
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby zgriptsuroica » Mon Oct 25, 2021 9:47 am

From what I've read this year, I've enjoyed the following:

La sonate à Bridgetower, by Emmanuel Dongala - A fictionalized account of the life of George Bridgetower, a Black violin virtuoso active during the 18th and 19th centuries.

L'iguifou, by Scholastique Mukasonga - Stories about Rwandas, both in the diaspora and in Rwanda. Good stories, but super depressing.

Frère d'âme, by David Diop - A novel involving the tirailleurs sénégalais, Senegalese Riflemen serving on behalf of France in WWI.
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby kanewai » Fri Oct 29, 2021 7:52 am

It's such a simple question - and yet it get's tricky when I try to answer it! Do we include authors who are from outside metropolitan France, but live their now? Or French citizens who live abroad? I'm just going to run through my goodreads queue here ...


Ágota Kristóf - From Hungary, wrote in French, her Grand cahier is a deeply disturbing tale of two twins during WW II

Amin Maalouf - From Lebanon, lives in France. Samarcand is a wonderful historical novel centered, in part, on the life of Omar Khayyam. He is one of my favorite modern authors.

Margeurite Duras - French citizen, raised in Indochina, her Un barrage contre le Pacific is a fascinating look at growing up poor and white in Vietnam.

Tahar ben Jalloun is Moroccan. His L'enfant de sable is story of a man who has too many daughters, and so raises one to be his son.

Ibrahim al-Koni is Touareg. His epic Les mages was a challenging read, for me, but also a compelling look into life in the Sahara in the middle ages. This is absolutely a book that's worth the challenge.

François-René de Chateaubriand is a "classic' French writer - but his best work comes from his time in Amérique.

I'm missing one, and it's driving me crazy that I can't remember his name. He is from North Africa, but wrote under a female pseudonym about life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

--- Surprisingly, I can't think of any sub-Saharan or Caribbean French authors that I've read.
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby guyome » Fri Oct 29, 2021 7:58 am

kanewai wrote:I'm missing one, and it's driving me crazy that I can't remember his name. He is from North Africa, but wrote under a female pseudonym about life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Although it does not match your description, could it be Atiq Rahimi's Syngué sabour?
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby AroAro » Fri Oct 29, 2021 8:16 am

guyome wrote:
kanewai wrote:I'm missing one, and it's driving me crazy that I can't remember his name. He is from North Africa, but wrote under a female pseudonym about life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
Although it does not match your description, could it be Atiq Rahimi's Syngué sabour?


Or maybe Yasmina Khadra? He comes from Algeria but his books are set in many places all over the world. I even happen to have his "Les Hirondelles de Kaboul" - still not read but the description fits the bill.
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Re: Recommended French books/literature from outside (metropolitan) France?

Postby Maiwenn » Fri Oct 29, 2021 9:02 am

For an amusing read that will expose you to vocabulary and characters you're unlikely to find elsewhere, try La vérité sort de la bouche du cheval by Meriem Alaoui. It's written from the point of view of a Casablanca prostitute who finds herself in an unlikely role.

kanewai wrote: I'm missing one, and it's driving me crazy that I can't remember his name. He is from North Africa, but wrote under a female pseudonym about life in Afghanistan under the Taliban.

--- Surprisingly, I can't think of any sub-Saharan or Caribbean French authors that I've read.


As AroAro wrote, you're thinking of Yasmina Khadra and Les Hirondelles de Kaboul. :)

For Caribbean French authors, there's Joseph Zobel from the Martinique (La Rue Cases-Nègres) and Maryse Condé from Guadeloupe (Moi, Tituba, Sorcière) whom I have read and appreciated.
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