Where Writers Are Read

What’s it like being a writer in France? You starve (the way you would here, but there you do it on brie and baguette), you produce (at the rate of one book a year), people actually read your books (and you’ll get reviews). If you make it big (or are re-discovered after you’re dead), they bury you in the Pantheon and have headlines about how your loss leaves them in despair. Exaggeration? Only slightly.

Cristina Nehring’s NY Times piece, though, essentially states the fact that France is a nation of bibliophiles, but doesn’t go much beyond that. She picks a few titles from this year’s rentre litteraire, declares them “disconcertingly weak,” generalizes to the rest of current French fiction, and ends with a bit of shoulder shrugging.