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Summer Reading: French Edition

available at Amazon
Andrus Kivirähk, L'Homme qui savait la
langue des serpents
(Attila, 2013)
Here is a selection of some French beach reads (Les coups de coeur du "Monde des livres" pour l'été, June 21) recommended by Le Monde (my translation):
Andrus Kivirähk, L'Homme qui savait la langue des serpents (Mees, kes teadis ussisõnu), trans. Jean-Pierre Minaudier, Attila, 422 pp., 23 €.

In this novel by Andrus Kivirähk, born in 1970, some German knights pursue young girls and chase the Estonians out of the forest where they were living in communion with nature. An uproarious reflection on a new age, a crazy fantasy, and a grand book on solitude, The Man Who Spoke Snakish is like nothing else and respects no one. Precious like a secret language. (Nils C. Ahl)

Antoine Compagnon, La Classe de rhéto, 336 pp., 19,90 €.

At once traditional and facetious, this superb Bildungsroman recounts a year in a military school: group law and rituals of humiliation, but also gestures of solidarity and sentimental education. Its hero is an antimodern boy who takes refuge in literature. Antoine Compagnon issues of brotherly greeting here to all those heady types out there, to those disciplined rebels for whom the love of tradition is united to the thrill of disobedience. (Jean Birnbaum)

Michela Murgia, La Guerre des saints (L'Incontro), trans. Nathalie Bauer, Seuil, 120 pp., 15 €.

At the edges of a subtle novel of apprenticeship, bright and elliptical, Michela Murgia creates a somewhat ethnographic portrait of a universal Sardinia beyond time. The time of words creates a world of real space: fables told in a soft voice, holy chants launched to the sky, promises exchanged as part of adult rites create a sense of membership. A diffuse but never volatile book. (Philippe-Jean Catinchi)

Philippe Jaccottet, Taches de soleil, ou d'ombre: Notes sauvegardées, 1952-2005. Le Bruit du temps, 206p., 22 €.

Rereading his notebooks for the last time, the great poet Philippe Jaccottet, 87 years old, has saved up precious unread pages where, for the first time, he leaves room for his friends and favorite poets. Everything in these notes provokes meditation and reverie: the beauty of a landscape, the freshness of a sensation, but also admiration for the poetry of Mandelstam, the painting of Morandi, the music of Schubert. (Moniqute Petillon)
There are several more novels and some choices for essays.

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