Virginie Despentes superstar of a “cautious” literary return with 490 novels

This had not happened for 20 years: the number of novels to be published in the fall literary season drops below 500, according to the magazine Weekly Books. In question, according to the specialized magazine which interviewed the publishers, the shortage of paper and the uncertainties linked to the merger between Editis and Hachette, which worries the publishing world.

According to the data Weekly Books/Electre Data Services published at the end of June, 490 novels will appear between mid-August and October, compared to 521 in 2021, a decrease of 6%.

It is on the French side that the decline is felt the most, with 345 titles including 90 first novels (up) but little support in this return from the big publishers. Weekly Books notes a greater stability on the side of foreign novels, with 145 translations planned for the start of the school year, only three less than in 2021.

Punk figure of French letters, Virginie Despentes, the author of fuck me and former member of the Goncourt jury, is at the heart of this literary season. His latest novel, Dear assholeat Grasset, is the most talked about title according to AFP, five years after the third volume of Vernon Subutex.

It is an epistolary novel on addiction, feminism, the #MeToo movement, social networks, against a background of confinement, is carried by a very favorable review. On addiction, “I do not defend any thesis”, said Telerama the author of King Kong Theory whom the media describe as more peaceful, at 53 years old. But, adds AFP, on feminism, she remains inflexible, as explained by her main character, Rebecca Latté.

At Albin Michel, as every year we find Amélie Nothomb. The 2022 vintage is titled The sisters book and it is announced with this sentence: “Words have the power we give them”. Among the locomotives, Olivier Adam publishes Under the roses, a novel about family, siblings and the question of the vampirization of the private lives of loved ones by artists. Gaëlle Josse also tackles the theme of family, and siblings, with fathers nightat Notabilia.

Also on the program Dog 51a dystopia signed Laurent Gaudé, at Actes Sud and The inventor by Miguel Bonnefoy, a fictionalized biography of Augustin Mouchot, discoverer of solar energy in the 19th century. Also back in this French back-to-school season, Yann Quefellec, Bernard Chambaz, Yannick Haenel, Monica Sabolo, Carole Fives, Marie Nimier, Alain Mabanckou, Yves Ravey, Franck Bouysse, or even Christophe Ono-dit-Biot. We will also discover in this new school year the second novel by David Lopez after FiefInter Book Prize 2018.

The start of the new school year gives pride of place to first novels (up 21% compared to 2021) but it is rather the small and medium-sized publishing houses that defend them the most, notes Weekly Books. The professional magazine notes that the majority of these first roms are written by women, a trend that has already begun in recent years.

A few heavyweights are expected on the foreign side, such as Toni Morrison, of whom we can discover an unpublished short story published by Bourgois, titled Recitative, or even Jonathan Franzen with Crossroads published by L’Olivier, or Russell Banks with Oh Canadaat Actes Sud, or even Julie Otsuka who publishes at Gallimard The swimming line.

Editions Le Bruit du Monde takes us to Mexico with The white rock, the latest novel by Anna Hope (Great Britain). On the back-to-school program on the foreign side, we can also note the return of the Colombian Juan Gabriel Vasquez, the Englishman Julian Barnes, Antony Doerr, at Albin Michel, Sally Rooney or the Portuguese Mia Couto.

The announcement of the figures for this “cautious” literary season coincides with that of “outstanding” growth for publishing in 2021. The sector has seen its turnover grow by 12.4% compared to a year 2020 disrupted by the health crisis, the National Publishing Union said on Thursday June 30.

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Virginie Despentes superstar of a “cautious” literary return with 490 novels