Parisian Living

Contemporary French Books to Add to Your Reading List

by Lily Heise

Books are a wonderful way for Francophiles around the world to stay connected with France. However, perhaps some might be looking for a window into contemporary French society rather than the views of the 19th-century presented by the likes of Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, and Emile Zola. From contemporary literary greats to critically acclaimed newcomers, here is a selection of recently released books by French authors, all translated into English.

“Adele” by Leïla Slimani

After the sweeping international success of her “The Perfect Nanny,” winner of the 2016 Goncourt prize, Leïla Slimani is back with her third novel. In “Adele,” the Franco-Moroccan writer unravels the chilling tale of a Paris-based journalist whose life is overtaken by obsession.

Left: Numerous books are opened and laid atop one another, Right: Leila Slimani stands in a long black sleeve shirt in front of a blue background
Patrick Tomasso / Francesca Mantovani

“Serotonin” by Michel Houellebecq

A household name in France, Michel Houellebecq’s latest novel takes a harsh look at 21st-century society, drug addiction, and globalization. The story takes place between Paris and Normandy, where a disillusioned civil servant attempts to start anew only to find that rural France is disintegrating due to big business and European agricultural policies.

Left: The cover of Michel Houllebecq's book "Serotonin," which shows an old painting of a man, Right: Michel Houllebecq, wearing dark clothes, smokes a cigarette while sitting in a chair inside a red room. Behind him is a mirror which reflects  a shelf filled with books.
Philippe Matsas

“The Cheffe: A Cook’s Novel” by Marie NDiaye

Known for her strong female protagonists, in her latest novel, Goncourt Prize laureate and Booker Prize nominee Marie NDiaye takes readers into the world of gastronomy through the eyes of a female chef, who battles to make a name for herself in an industry heavily dominated by men.

Left: The cover of Marie NDiaye's book "The Cheffe," which is black, with the outline of the profile of a face in a light yellow color, Right: A portrait of Marie NDiaye, wearing a long sleeved black shirt with a white collar, as she looks into the camera
Cankarjev Dom

“Family Record” by Patrick Modiano

Winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize in Literature, Patrick Modiano presents a fascinating reflection on the ways family history influences identity, as told through a series of vignettes taking place in Nazi-occupied Paris and its aftermath.

“Loyalties” by Delphine de Vigan

Following the success of her international best-seller, “Based On a True Story,” the award-winning novelist’s latest release weaves a thrilling narrative with four stories of secrets, obsessions, and loyalties. 

Left: The cover for Delphine de Vigan's new book loyalties, which is black with a white flower in the center, Right" Books are laid open atop a white surface
Sincerely Media

“Lie With Me: A Novel” by Philippe Besson

Critically acclaimed novelist Philippe Besson returns to his roots in rural France in this novel about a love affair between two 17-year-old boys in the 80s. Seen by many as semi-autobiographical, the moving story was translated into English by actress Molly Ringwald, who played her share of troubled youths in cult 1980s movies like “Sixteen Candles” and “The Breakfast Club.”

Left: The top of an apartment building in Paris as the sun sets on the roof, blue sky and cloud are visible in the background, Right: A portrait of Delphine de Vigan, wearing a blue shirt and standing in front of a wall of books
Jamie Rolston / Emma Schneider

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Written by Lily Heise for HiP Paris. Looking to travel? Check out Haven In for a  fabulous vacation rental in Paris, France or Italy. Looking to rent long-term or buy in France or Italy? Ask us! We can connect you to our trusted providers for amazing service and rates.

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Written By

Lily Heise

Lily Heise has been living in Paris for more than 10 years. When she's not getting into romantic mischief, she writes on dating, travel, and culture. Her writing has been featured in Frommer’s Guides, the Huffington Post, Conde Nast Traveler, City Secrets, DK Eyewitness Guides, and other local and international publications. She is the author of Je T'Aime, Me Neither, and Je T'Aime... Maybe? lively novelized memoirs on her romantic misadventures, and continues to share dating tips, stories and travel features on her blog www.jetaimemeneither.com. View Lily Heise's Website

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