French author celebrates the outsider
This article is from 2008.
Young Parisian author Céline Curiol laughs when I tell her of the proliferation of post-Carla Bruni articles seeking to define the particular character of the French woman, and then makes her apologies for a lack of further insight. ‘I’m going to have to be very boring,’ she says. ‘As someone who has lived the last 12 years outside France, I don’t know if I completely qualify as the best example of a French woman now.’
Yet, Curiol is back in Paris again, after periods spent living in London and New York. Her home city saw the first publication of her two novels to date, Voice Over and Permission (the former released in Britain this year, three years behind France; the latter still in translation), and the characters she writes about are defined – in a subtle way – by their nation. Voice Over is the story of a particularly solitary woman who works as a station announcer at the Gare du Nord, and who follows a man she falls for to London.
‘The lead character is a young French woman, and I was interested in trying to show French society through her eyes, to see what Paris and France are today. I often find that French novels are now written by one kind of person, and they only see the same kind of people around them. So all the questions about immigration, for example, are often set apart from mainstream literature. I think I have a better perspective on this than many, because I am French, but I also know how it feels to be an outsider.’
9 Aug (with Hédi Kaddour and Florian Zeller), 6pm, £6 (£4).