January literary season: fourteen books not to be missed

If the last Houellebecq occupies the ground of this January harvest, other writers are distinguished by an obstinate and exemplary singularity, such as Philippe Forest and his constantly reinvented path of mourning, or Vincent Message and his disturbing “Years without sun” … Overview of our first favorites of 2022.

Is the publishing world upside down, confusing January and September this year? One might think so, on the eve of seeing the novelties of the winter literary season surge in bookstores, i.e. 545 novels and stories, French and foreign, to be published over the next eight weeks – while we do not counted “only” 521 during the fall start, four months ago. No doubt betting on the monumental presence of Michel Houellebecq and his eighth novel, annihilate, With a print run of 300,000 copies from the start, the publishers nevertheless preferred to postpone the other headliners of the season for a few weeks: for example Pierre Lemaitre (The Big World, ed. Calmann-Lévy), Nicolas Mathieu (Connemara, ed. Actes Sud), or Leïla Slimani (Watch us dance ed. Gallimard), whose books are announced for the end of January, the beginning of February, that is to say after the Houellebecquian wave, but before the acme of the electoral campaign for the presidential election, reputed to divert readers from bookstores.

Y “Annihilate”, by Michel Houellebecq

In an interview conducted in 2017 — that is to say, in the Houellebecquian chronology, between Submission (2015) and Serotonin (2019) —, the writer gives his “activity” novelist this eloquent and inspired definition: it is about “to take on oneself the negative, all the negative in the world, and to paint it, so that the reader can be relieved by having seen this negative part expressed”. A little in the same way, therefore, that… Read more

Ed. Flammarion

> Ed. Flammarion, 734 pages, €26.

U “Pi Ying Xi”, by Philippe Forest

He calls her his “Chinese novel”. And presents it as the resumption, the extension of a “Japanese novel” which he wrote in 2004, the splendid and poignant Sarinagara— taking its title from a haiku by Kobayashi Issa (1763-1827): “World of dew/it’s a world of dew/and yet yet. » However, it is not necessary to have read the first to engage in the second, which is based on several stays that Philippe Forest has made in China since… Read more

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Ed. Gallimard

> Ed. Gallimard, 338 pages, €21.

Y “The Sunless Years”, by Vincent Message

“Often I wonder if literature should confront reality in its most massive form, or rather open us up to the experience of a more discreet, secret or misunderstood reality. asks Elias Torres, the writer with the confidential success of Years without sun, part-time bookseller to survive. In this fourth novel, Vincent Message, 38, nevertheless succeeds in both at the same time… Read more

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Ed. of the Threshold

> Ed. du Seuil, 304 p., €19.50.

Y “Scarlett”, by François Guillaume Lorrain

It was almost reluctantly that in 1936 Margaret Mitchell entrusted her manuscript to a publisher. The thousand or so pages that she took ten years to write will nevertheless captivate all who read them, Gone With the Wind achieving phenomenal success, and the Pulitzer Prize the following year. As for adapting this novel-river to the cinema, many doubt… Read more

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Ed. Flammarion

> Ed. Flammarion, 320 pages, €20.

Y “The Square of the Indigents”, by Hugues Pagan

Here is Schneider again, a melancholy and talented cop who avoids his gaze in the mirror. This ex-paratrooper, badly recovered from the war in Algeria, man of the night and boss of the Criminal Group, hates the outpouring but remains upset by the death of a fifteen-year-old girl, killed by a madman. Hugues Pagan has been walking this antihero since Death in a lonely car, twilight novel published in 1982… Read more

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Ed. Shores/Black

> Ed. Shores/Black, 384 p., €20.50.

Y Waterfowl by Gabrielle Filteau-Chiba

Astheure, Coyote, let’s hunt down the poachers. » It’s a woman who talks, it’s a female dog who listens, both creatures of the woods, determined never to be afraid. Easier said than done, when spectacular death lurks in the thickets. Raphaëlle Robichaud seeks isolation, she also fears it, to the point of teasing herself internally: “You know you suffer from loneliness Read more

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Ed. Stock

> Ed. Stock, 368 pages, €20.90.

U “The Perfect Girl”, by Nathalie Azoulai

Adèle Prinker and Rachel Deville are friends for life, almost sisters, blond as wheat, steeped in intelligence. But, with the Prinkers, mathematics dominates everything, while the Devilles go into raptures over Turner, Shakespeare or Proust. Never mind, Adèle retorts to Rachel, “consider that we are two daughters of one and the same family: one will be a mathematician and the other a grammarian Read more

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Ed. POL

> Ed. POL, 316 pages, €20.

U Le Pain Perdu by Edith Bruck

When Edith Bruck addresses God, she names him “Great Silence”: “I am writing to You who will never read my scribbles, will never answer my questions, my ruminating thoughts for a lifetime. » But she writes to him, despite everything, and her letter is an angry invocation that closes French toast, the story she tackled in a hurry when, almost 90 years old… Read more

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Ed. of the Basement

> Ed. Basement, 176 p., €16.50.

U “Love, the sea”, by Pascal Quignard

“What was true better protects the false and the desires to which the false gives way than a simple anachronistic intrigue that we patch up and pull by the hair”, warned Pascal Quignard when dreaming of the life of the Latin rhetorician Caius Albucius Silus, of fabricating the gaping gaps in his biography (Albucius, 1990). The quignardesque lie is dizzying, wildly acceptable and persuasive, magnetic, bewitching, phenomenal. It takes a thousand forms to weave the marvelous romantic material of love the sea Read more

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Ed. Gallimard

> Ed. Gallimard, 400 pages, €22.

Y From Dawn to Dawn by Laurence Tardieu

From one dawn to another is the novel of a warrior. A violently personal text, realistic to the bone and yet universal, where the survival of a child and the terror of a mother are played out on each page. “We arrived at the emergency department of the Robert-Debré hospital on Tuesday March 17, 2020 in the morning. » From that day and for many months, the life of the narrator will switch to another dimension… Read more

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Ed. Stock

> Ed. Stock, 220 pages, €19.50.

Y “Just a body”, by Claude Arnaud

A writer is also a body. Thirtieth author invited to engage in the exercise of the self-portrait in the original and beautiful collection Traits et portraits, Claude Arnaud thus chooses to give voice (words, sentences and images in support) to this mass of muscles, viscera and arteries which nevertheless form a set of 1.83 meters for 72 kilos, pianist’s hands and Greek foot, but which ” born [se] barely understands” Read more

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Ed. Mercury of France

> Ed. Mercure de France, 112 pages, €15.

Y “At the café of the lost city”, by Anaïs Llobet

A puzzle novel. Like the bewitching puzzle island where it takes place, Cyprus. Since the dawn of time, peoples have been arguing about it endlessly. Yesterday the Persians and the Greeks, and even today, more slyly, secretly, the Turks and the Greeks. It is around their final armed battles that Anaïs Llobet composed her third book. She plays wonderfully with both the big and the small story… Read more

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Ed. of the Observatory

> Ed. from the Observatory, €20.

Y “The Netanyahus”, by Joshua Cohen

United States, late 1950s. Ruben Blum is a child of the “American dream”. Where else, at that time, could this son of Ukrainian-Russian immigrant workers have become a university professor? Certainly Corbin is neither Harvard nor Princeton, and his specialty, tax history, will not open the doors of prestigious journals to him… Read more

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Ed. Stifle

> Ed. Grasset, 352 pages, €22.

U “The Turnaround”, by Manuel Carcassonne

“Where God once stood now stands melancholy,” wrote Gershom Scholem to his friend Walter Benjamin. The reflection, which quotes Manuel Carcassonne in this story interspersed with a thousand other references, fits perfectly with his mood and his history as a French secular Jew from several generations of assimilated Jews… Read more

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Ed. Stifle

> Ed. Grasset, 320 pages, €20.90.

We would like to thank the writer of this article for this remarkable material

January literary season: fourteen books not to be missed