Human Nature by Serge Joncour (tr. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Gallic Books, September 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.
Lean On Me by Serge Joncour (tr. Jane Aitken and Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Gallic Books, March 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.
‘…this magical, wickedly skillful author evokes the contradictions of contemporary life, social anxiety and the hidden beauties of the soul better than anyone. Flights of passion and the power of appearances are captured… in sparkling language that carries us from tears to smiles. The human comedy holds no secrets for Serge Joncour.’
‘absolutely authentic… not romanticised in any way. Both Aurore and Ludovic have flaws, make mistakes… but that’s… life, isn’t it? I must praise the skill of the book’s translators, Jane Aitken & Louise Rogers Lalaurie, as the writing flows in such a way that I often had to remind myself I was reading a book originally written in another language.’
What Cathy Read Next
‘…a slice of life, … 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 were believable, they seemed real.‘
Winner of the Prix Interallié
The Second Woman by Louise Mey (tr. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Pushkin Press, September 2021
Sandrine is a damaged survivor, from her cruel parents and her subsequent, abusive encounters with men. When she joins a White Walk to find a woman who has gone missing, presumed dead, she meets the woman’s family – a man who cries, and his dark-eyed, raven-haired little boy – and leaves her lonely, single life behind. But missing persons don’t always stay that way…
‘An astonishingly immersive and chilling account of how abusive relationships form, and then escalate. Beautifully wrought, this is an important, psychologically astute novel which is deeply disturbing and profoundly real. It has the power of a psychic haunting, lingering long in the mind after you finish reading it‘
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 and… put me in mind… of Angela Carter’s ‘The Bloody Chamber’…. The superb quality of the translation must also be noted, the writing flows beautifully. I really couldn’t recommend more highly this intense book which examines violence, coercive control and gaslighting with cutting intelligence. The Second Woman deftly maintains a taut and sinister sense of foreboding that will grip the reader… until the conclusion. Marvellously good.”
The Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths by Olivier Barde-Cabuçon (tr. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Pushkin Press, 2020.
Introducing the Chevalier Volnay, Louis XV’s Inspector of Strange and Unexplained Deaths, his irrepressible side-kick (a thoroughly un-monkish monk), and the strange, yet strangely familiar world of pre-Revolutionary Paris. Alchemy, black magic, seduction and murder in the age of Enlightenment. (First published as Casanova and the Faceless Woman, Pushkin Vertigo, March 2019).
“…everything you would expect from a French historical drama – secret societies, a heretic monk, a fortune teller, swordplay, fashion, art, sex and politics. It’s 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
“…a winner: splendid stuff in which the era is colourfully and vividly evoked – the sine qua non of historical crime fiction, of course – but Olivier Barde-Cabuçon’s ace in the hole in Casanova and the Faceless Woman is the quirky and eccentric characterisation, notably of the libidinous Casanova. This first volume augurs well for the succeeding series.”
Barry Forshaw in #RivetingReviews (European Literature Network)
The Braid, by Laetitia Colombani (tr. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Picador Books, March 2019
A phenomenal best-seller in France and world-wide, Colombani’s début work is a beautifully conceived intertwining of three women’s lives and choices in three very different cultures.
“…a heartening story, fable-like in its telling but not sugar-coated, and an appealing one. 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 (tr. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Gallic Books, 2018
First published in France in 2008, Smoking Kills pre-dates Laurain’s established successes in English (The President’s Hat, The Red Notebook and French Rhapsody, all translated by Gallic Books). 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, with more than a hint of darkness below the surface.
“Antoine Laurain is as dry as a chilled Chablis and makes merry nonsense of the theory that the French can’t laugh at themselves. […] His cast of characters is brilliant […] Formidable.”
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 […] guaranteed fun for all smokers who have vowed to go down fighting.”
Back Up, by Paul Colize (trans. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Oneworld, February 2018
Belgian author Paul Colize’s critically acclaimed noir novel is a wild trip back to the Sixties, and bang 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
“This book [builds] to something 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.”
Abridged from a reader preview on Net Galley
The King of Fools, by Frédéric Dard (trans. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Pushkin Vertigo, May 2017
The latest in Pushkin Vertigo’s 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 (trans. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Wakefield Press, October 2015
Gabrielle Wittkop’s 18th-century poisonfest celebrates the beauty, corruption and terrifying, dark heart of the Serene Republic on the eve of its downfall. A fabulous introduction to the work of France’s self-styled, latterday Sadeian.
“An extraordinary artistic achievement […] these sentences are so gorgeous they rekindled my belief in the efficacy of the beautiful. […] Murder Most Serene will be the most fun you 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.
Published in French in 1994, to wide acclaim, and available now in English for the first time, Anne Cuneo’s remarkable dissection of early 17th-century Europe tells The Life and Sometimes Secret Adventures of Francis Tregian, Gentleman and Musician, 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 home land of Cornwall and beyond. A profoundly humane account of an extraordinary life, steeped in its author’s scholarship, full of contemporary resonance.
Click below for readings from the novel, and music from the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book played by Patrick Ayrton for the launch of Tregian’s Ground, April 28, 2015, at the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK.
Forty Days Without Shadow, by Olivier Truc (trans. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Little, Brown/Trapdoor, April 2014.
Truc’s richly atmospheric crime début is set in Lapland – the Sami territories of northern Scandinavia – as the sun returns after forty days of winter 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 (tr. Louise Rogers Lalaurie, Jane Aitken and 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…
“… 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 (trans. Louise Rogers Lalaurie), Dalkey Archive Press, 2011
Traveller, grand reporteur and psychogeographer Jean Rolin is one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary French literature, widely compared to W.G. Sebald, Bruce Chatwin and Paul Theroux. He won a lifetime achievement award at Etonnants Voyageurs 2012. Accompanying a battered Audi over sea and land to Kinshasa, and a new life as a Congo taxi (for the family of his friend Foulon, a Congolese army officer exiled to Paris) Rolin paints a profoundly humane portrait of a troubled region, shot through with his 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