I have over 13 years’ experience as a translator of literary and genre fiction, including 13 novels, plus short stories and extracts.
An Astronomer in Love by Antoine Laurain, Gallic Books, 2023
A telescope joins the cabinet of curioisities – a red notebook, a cassette tape, a bottle of vintage wine, even a president’s hat – so beloved of fans of Antoine Laurain. Fate and love work their magic across time and space in this delightful tale of intertwined destinies, thwarted plans, the resilience of the human spirit, and the eternal charm of Paris.
Co-translated with Megan Jones
Human Nature by Serge Joncour, Gallic Books, 2022
Joncour chronicles life in rural France from the long, hot summer of ’76 to the cataclysmic storm that marked the turn of the new millennium. Deep in the Lot, Alexandre is a young, third-generation farmer caught between tradition, consumerism, and a very French perception of progress – hypermarkets, and a motorway that threatens to cut his land in two. But will his love for Constanze, a German student from behind the Wall, and the unexpected attentions of her eco-terrorist friends, prove the biggest challenge of all?
Over 100,000 copies sold in France. Winner of the Prix Femina 2020 and the Prix François Sommer 2021.
‘A perfect translation from French to English by Louise Rogers Lalaurie, leaving you to think in French whilst reading in English. A true talent.’
Books on the Hill
Lean On Me by Serge Joncour, Gallic Books, 2022
An unlikely Parisian love story: high life, low life, business skulduggery, the states of water, tight trousers, lonely hearts… and a murder of crows.
Q&A with Gallic Books, on co-translating Lean On Me with Jane Aitken.
‘…this magical, wickedly skillful author evokes the contradictions of contemporary life, social anxiety and the hidden beauties of the soul better than anyone… The human comedy holds no secrets for Serge Joncour.’
‘absolutely authentic… I must praise the skill of the book’s translators, Jane Aitken & Louise Rogers Lalaurie… I often had to remind myself I was reading a book originally written in another language.’
What Cathy Read Next
‘a rebellion against… consumerism, urban life, the race for professional success… I walked along w these characters, suspended judgement & found myself understanding. Despite their questionable choices… they seemed real.‘
Winner of the Prix Interallié
The Second Woman by Louise Mey, Pushkin Press, 2022
Sandrine is a damaged survivor, of her cruel parents and subsequent, abusive encounters with men. On a White Walk to trace a missing woman, presumed dead, she meets the family – a man who cries, and his dark-eyed little boy – and leaves loneliness behind. But missing persons don’t always stay that way…
‘…immersive and chilling… Beautifully wrought, this is an important, psychologically astute novel… It has the power of a psychic haunting, lingering long in the mind… ‘
Lisa Harding, author of Harvesting
“...vivid, often macabre imagery… draws the reader fully into the unsettling story. The Second Woman almost feels like horror, or a very dark fairytale, [like]Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber…. The superb quality of the translation must also be noted… I really couldn’t recommend more highly this intense book which examines violence, coercive control and gaslighting with cutting intelligence… Marvellously good.”
The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths by Olivier Barde-Cabuçon, Pushkin Press, 2020.
Introducing Chevalier Volnay, Louis XV’s Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths, his irrepressible side-kick (a thoroughly un-monkish monk), and the exotic yet oddly familiar world of pre-Revolutionary Paris. Alchemy, black magic, seduction and murder in the age of Enlightenment.
“... a racy historical mystery with real style, dash and brilliance.”
John Cleal at Crime Review, April 13, 2019.
“Zut alors, what a brilliant read… Sit down Dan Brown.”
Raven Crime Reads, April 21, 2019
“…splendid stuff… Olivier Barde-Cabuçon’s ace in the hole… is the quirky and eccentric characterisation, notably of the libidinous Casanova..”
Barry Forshaw in #RivetingReviews (European Literature Network)
The Braid by Laetitia Colombani, Picador, 2019
A phenomenal best-seller in France and world-wide, Colombani’s début work interwines three women’s lives and choices across cultures.
“…a heartening story, fable-like in its telling but not sugar-coated… Proof, yet again, of the power of the novella.”
A Life in Books
“Elegant and engaging . . . What stood out for me was the colour and authenticity the author gives to each character’s background as they face lifechanging challenges.”
Smoking Kills by Antoine Laurain, Gallic Books, 2018
When executive headhunter Fabrice Valantine resorts to hypnotism in the face of the smoking ban (and not a little pressure from his high-powered wife, a curator of questionable contemporary art) the results are unexpected, even strangely satisfying… A romp through Parisian bourgeois-bohemia and the darkness beneath.
“Antoine Laurain is as dry as a chilled Chablis and makes merry nonsense of the theory that the French can’t laugh at themselves”
Wendy Holden in the Daily Mail.
“Smoking Kills has the pleasing wierdness that makes Laurain’s novels so appealing, but it is altogether darker…”
“Every detail is wreathed in smoke and irony.”
Back Up by Paul Colize, Oneworld, 2018
Belgian author Paul Colize’s critically acclaimed noir novel is a wild trip back to the Sixties and up-to-date, evoking the fabled decade’s long, dark shadow over so many young lives – those who made it, and those who went down with the crystal ship…
“The rock-and-roll aesthetic of the plot kerrangs through the swift and exciting prose.”
World Literature Today
“… darker than expected. It’s all fun, drugs and rock’n’roll until the bodies start piling up… Drug fuelled paranoia or realistic fears? […] Murders or accidents? All this [against] a background of music from Chuck Berry to Hendrix and from Montreux to Berlin, with drums resonating like a heartbeat through its pages.”
The King of Fools by Frédéric Dard, Pushkin Vertigo, 2017
Part of Pushkin Vertigo’s acclaimed series of new translations from the master of vintage French noir. Set in 1950s Antibes and Edinburgh, this is a character-driven, Hitchockian thriller with a deceptively light touch.
‘What really makes the book a worthwhile and enjoyable read is [the hero’s] voice, in its boredom, desperation, and passion […] An almost off-hand, casual little thriller […] a fine, even impressive, light read.’
Michael Orthofer in The Complete Review
Murder Most Serene by Gabrielle Wittkop, Wakefield Press, 2015
Wittkop’s 18th-century poisonfest celebrates the beauty, corruption and dark heart of the Serene Republic of Venice on the eve of its downfall. A fabulous introduction to the work of France’s self-styled, latterday Sadeian.
*Shortlisted for the 2015 Best Translated Book Award
A short reading from Murder Most Serene, at Translators Aloud (YouTube).
“An extraordinary artistic achievement […] these sentences are so gorgeous they rekindled my belief in the efficacy of the beautiful. […] the most fun you’ll have reading this year.”
Ben Carter Olcott on ‘Why this book should win’ the BTBA 2016.
“Wittkop’s words shimmer with dark brilliance, deftly translated from the French by Louise Rogers Lalaurie… [the] purple prose […] possesses a gaudy excess […] rendered with precision, irony, and humor.”
Karl Wolff in the New York Journal of Books, December 2015.
“This is dark, rich, deeply disturbing writing, conscious of its artifice and expertly manipulating that.”
Michael Orthofer in the Complete Review, November 2015.
‘… a virtuosic translation by Louise Rogers Lalaurie.’
Joshua Cohen in Harper’s Magazine, October 2015.
Tregian’s Ground by Anne Cuneo (co-translated with Roland Glasser), And Other Stories, 2015
Anne Cuneo’s remarkable panorama of early 17th-century Europe tells the story of the real-life compiler of the celebrated Fitzwilliam Virginal Book: virtuoso muscian, swashbuckler and spy, a proud Catholic patriot persecuted for his adherence to a faith synonymous with treason in his Cornish homeland and beyond. Steeped in its author’s scholarship, full of contemporary resonance.
Readings, and music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book played by Patrick Ayrton, featured at the launch of Tregian’s Ground on April 28, 2015 at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
Forty Days Without Shadow by Olivier Truc / Little, Brown/Trapdoor, 2014.
Truc’s richly atmospheric crime début is set in the Sami territories of northern Scandinavia as the sun returns after forty days of darkness. Investigating the theft of a priceless shamanic drum from a local museum, and a savage murder in the depths of the vidda, Reindeer Police officers Klemet Nango and Nina Nansen stir up bitter clan feuds, political rivalries, and old demons – not least their own.
* Shortlisted for the 2014 Crime Writers Association International Dagger.
“Forty Days Without Shadow has won numerous awards and justly so […] Highly recommended: just as we might have thought Scandinavian crime was exhausted, a brilliant new voice comes along.”
Jane Jakeman in The Independent.
The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain (co-translated with Jane Aitken & Emily Boyce), Gallic Books, 2013
When France’s President Mitterrand leaves his famous Homburg hat in a Paris brasserie, the iconic item of headgear embarks on a tour of Paris society in the mid-1980s, with life-changing results for all who find it… The first of Laurain’s major best-sellers to be published in English. Now available in a celebratory 10th anniversary hardback edition.
On co-translating The President’s Hat.
“… this book may indeed zip along, [but] there is something clever going on under the surface. The reviewer from Le Figaro […] was reminded often of Marcel Aymé, […] but I think Laurain is being a little slyer, purposefully less exuberant than Aymé. Is this, or is this not, an allegory of power? I like the way we are invited to reply both ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to this question, […] teetering pleasantly on the edge of Gallic whimsy.”
Nicholas Lezard in The Guardian
The Explosion of the Radiator Hose by Jean Rolin, Dalkey Archive Press, 2011
Traveller, grand reporteur and psychogeographer Jean Rolin is one of France’s most distinctive contemporary voices, widely compared to W.G. Sebald, Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux. Accompanying a battered Audi over sea and land to Kinshasa, and a new life as a Congo taxi (for the family of a Congolese army officer exiled to Paris) Rolin paints a profoundly humane portrait of a troubled region, with characteristic, self-deprecating wit.
“…the most amusing and erudite shaggy dog story I’ve ever heard […] Tightly executed, unwaveringly gripping, and laugh-out-loud funny, each short chapter is packed with literary allusions—to Sebald, Proust, and Conrad, whose own Congo adventures and those in Heart of Darkness haunt Rolin’s story. […] Rolin’s prose is unusually precise and complex, with sentences that are very long and multi-clausal but never hard to follow. Louise Rogers Lalaurie is the book’s talented translator.”
Emma Garman in Words without Borders
Short fiction & extracts
Sonofabook #2 from CB Editions
My translation of an extended extract from Gabrielle Wittkop’s posthumous work Chaque Jour est un arbre qui tombe (‘Each Day is Tree That Falls’ – Gallimard/Folio, 2006) is published in Sonofabook #2 from CB Editions, guest edited by Sophie Lewis. As rich, strange and darkly beautiful as anything in Wittkop’s writing.
Novel of the World
Translations of two short stories by Fatou Diome (Senegal) and Yolanda Mukagasana (Rwanda) for this global anthology of stories about women and food, published for Expo 2015 Milan.
Translated extracts from novels by Catherine Bessonart, Yannick Haenel, Antoine Laurain, Hubert Haddad, Yves Ravey, in this bi-annual anthology of new French writing, published by the Institut Français in London and New York (2007-2012).
Music & Literature
‘A conspiracy of detail’ by Antoine Werli in Music & Literature 2, celebrating László Krasznahorkai’s A Mountain to the North, a Lake to the South, Paths to the West, a River to the East. Published by Taylor Davis Van Atta, edited by Daniel Medin.
World Literature Today
‘Mexico City’ by Jean Rolin, in Four-legged fictions, WLT volume 87, no. 4, July 2013. An excerpt from Jean Rolin’s canine-themed memoir/travel anthology Un chien mort après lui (‘A Dead Dog After Him’), P.O.L. Editeur, 2009. See my blog post Dog Days.
Hubert Haddad’s short story ‘Spring Breeze’, in New Europe: France, March 25, 2011.
Sous le manteau: short stories by Delphine de Vigan, Serge Joncour, Anna Rozen, Philippe Jaenada
Flammarion’s anthology of imaginative, erotic short stories by four leading French contemporary writers. My first literary translation, published in 2009.