Festival of New French Writing: French and American Literature in a Cross-Cultural Exchange

The Festival of New French Writing was an event that brought together French and American writers for discussions about literature.

The festival was held in New York City and was sponsored by the Center for French Civilization and Culture and at NYU, the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, and Institut Français.

In a world where words are windows to culture, the Festival of New French Writing emerged as a vibrant tapestry, weaving together the threads of French culture and American literary prowess. Picture this: one-on-one encounters between luminaries of French and American literature, orchestrated by the guiding hand of a discerning cultural critic. The result? A captivating symposium that not only celebrated literary artistry but also showcased the kaleidoscope of styles and forms that define contemporary French literary production.

A Platform for Literary Exploration

The “Festival of New French Writing” served as a reminder of the power of literature to transcend borders and connect people from diverse backgrounds. By bringing together talented authors from France and the United States, the festival offered a platform for dialogue, exchange of ideas, and celebration of literary expression. The discussions touched on themes of identity, voice, and cross-cultural understanding, reminding attendees of the significance of literature in shaping our worldviews and fostering empathy. As the festival concluded its second successful year, it left behind a legacy of inspiration, enriching the literary community and fostering deeper connections between French and American writers and readers alike.

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A Melting Pot of Minds

Imagine the literary giants of two nations converging in a single space, their pens poised to dissolve borders and traverse cultural landscapes. The Festival of New French Writing did just that – it created a platform where the written word transcended boundaries. French and American writers engaged in intimate dialogues, sharing insights, perspectives, and stories that resonated across oceans. This tête-à-tête was no ordinary exchange; it was an enchanting dance of ideas where French culture met American creativity, yielding a fusion that enriched both sides of the literary spectrum.

Cultural Critics as Architects of Dialogue

Every masterpiece deserves an adept critic who uncovers its nuances, and in the Festival of New French Writing, these cultural critics took on the role of architects of dialogue. With their keen insights into French culture, they moderated the conversations, steering them toward realms of discovery and connection. Their presence was the lighthouse guiding the literary vessels, ensuring that the essence of each exchange was not just preserved but amplified. Through their discerning lenses, the dialogues shimmered with a deeper understanding of the cultural undercurrents that shaped the words.

Celebrating French Literary Diversity

French culture is a tapestry woven with a spectrum of colors, each representing a unique style, form, and perspective. The Festival of New French Writing was an ode to this diversity, a celebration of the myriad ways in which contemporary French literature flourishes. From poetic prose that danced like ballerinas across the pages to experimental narratives that defied convention, the festival’s aim was crystal clear – to unveil the richness of French literary creation. Each dialogue, each encounter, became a brushstroke that painted a portrait of French culture through the lens of literature.

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In essence, the Festival of New French Writing was more than just a literary event; it was a cultural rendezvous where pens and hearts met in a harmonious embrace. French culture became the catalyst, infusing the exchanges with depth, resonance, and cross-cultural understanding. It was a celebration of the written word as a vessel that transcends borders and unites souls, leaving an indelible mark on the literary landscape.

The vibrant literary landscape of New York City welcomed the second annual “Festival of New French Writing” from February 24th to February 26th.

Hosted by New York University (NYU) in collaboration with Institut Français and The Cultural Services of the French Embassy, this literary extravaganza brought together prominent French and American writers for a series of enlightening discussions and dialogues about literature.

The event took place at NYU’s Hemmerdinger Hall, located on the ground floor of the Silver Center at 100 Washington Square East, with entrance accessible from Waverly Place.

The discussions were open to the public, allowing literature enthusiasts and curious minds to engage with the authors’ thoughts and ideas.

Travel to the event was facilitated by the nearby N, R (8th Street) and 6 (Astor Place) subway stations.

The festival’s format was centered around one-on-one encounters between seven influential French authors and seven notable American writers.

Each pair engaged in hour-long discussions, providing unique insights into their works and perspectives.

These conversations were expertly moderated by cultural critics, adding depth and guiding the exploration of literary themes.

The festival offered a platform for French and American authors to delve into various aspects of their craft and explore the similarities and differences in their approaches to writing.

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It aimed to broaden the horizons of American readers by introducing them to the richness and diversity of contemporary French and Francophone fiction and non-fiction.

A Glance at the Festival Schedule

The festival’s schedule was thoughtfully curated to ensure a dynamic and enriching experience for attendees.

The discussions featured a wide range of topics, allowing for meaningful exploration of the authors’ works and the literary world at large.

Here is a snapshot of the captivating conversations that took place:

Thursday, February 24

7:00 pm: Geneviève Brisac, winner of the Prix des éditeurs and Prix Femina, in dialogue with Rick Moody (moderated by Chad W. Post)

8:30 pm: Novelist Stéphane Audeguy in conversation with Jane Kramer (moderated by Chad W. Post)

Friday, February 25

2:30 pm: Philosopher Pascal Bruckner discussing with Mark Lilla (moderated by Adam Gopnik)

4:00 pm: Graphic Novelists David B. and Ben Katchor in dialogue (moderated by Françoise Mouly)

7:30 pm: French-Afghan writer and filmmaker Atiq Rahimi conversing with Russell Banks (moderated by Lila Azam Zanganeh)

Saturday, February 26

2:30 pm: Laurence Cossé engaging with Arthur Phillips (moderated by Judith G. Miller)

4:00 pm: Writer and film director Philippe Claudel discussing with A.M. Homes (moderated by John R. MacArthur)

The festival provided attendees with a unique opportunity to explore the thoughts, experiences, and creative processes of these acclaimed authors. Through these discussions, the event sought to foster a deeper appreciation for literature and cultural exchange, bridging the gap between French and American literary worlds.

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