Shopping

6 Must-Read Contemporary French Female Writers

by Molli McConnell

As a self-described bookworm, I’m always on the lookout for new contemporary authors. I do enjoy the classics, but sometimes they can feel outdated. I’m also always interested in adding more female authors to my to-be-read pile, because, let’s face it, women writers were given the short end of the stick for centuries. Things have changed (a little) these days, and there are plenty of fabulous female writers to discover. And, because I live in Paris and have been learning French for years now, I like to dabble in French books too. Sometimes it’s a challenge, but it’s one that I enjoy.

Left: A book called "Le Consentement" by french author Vanessa Springora lies on a white table with a dried flower beside it. Right: A picture of a Carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Both pictures appear scenic and cosy.
Top left: nuit_de_livres / Top right: tezza / Left: sundayboheme / Right: vi66nya

If you’re looking for some new female French authors to add to your reading list too, look no further. And, don’t worry. If you don’t speak French, you can always opt for the English version.

Right: A picture of the bookstore in Montmartre by the 18th arrondissement of Paris called Librairie de la Halle Saint-Pierre. It features 12 artistic posters hanging from the ceiling, a long bookshelf with maybe thousand of books, and two tables with books. You can also see the rustic windows that stretch from the ceiling to the floor. Right: A picture of a oblong window with the view of the Eiffel Tower, the street leading to the Tower and the Haussmannian buildings.
Left: patrick_larget / Right: pierreschuester

Annie Ernaux

First up on my list is Annie Ernaux, a French memorialist who published her first novel in 1974. It marked the beginning of a beautiful career that continues to be centered on autobiographies. Her most recently published book, Mémoire de fille” (“A Girl’s Story”), came out in 2016. Ernaux’s work tends to blend her own experiences with stories that she’s heard, as well as historical events. I was recently gifted “Les Années” (“The Years“), a memoir about life in France after the Second World War up until 2006, and I can’t wait to get started!

Left: A beautiful street in Montmartre covered in snow. Most of the buildings are in the shades of pink, salmon and brown. Right: A picture of a woman's left hand holding a book called "The Years" by renowned french author Annie Ernaux by a white wall. On the left of the woman's hand is a white flower.
Left: bakemetoparis / Right: instapatek

Vanessa Springora

Vanessa Springora made waves with the publication of her first and only novel, “Le Consentement” (“Consent: A Memoir”) in early 2020. It is an autobiographical work that brought to light a relationship that she had with the famous French writer Gabriel Matzneff (then 49) when she was just 14 years old.

Left: A white iPad showing the title page of the ebook called "Consent: A Memoir" by french author Vanessa Springora. The iPad is lying on a german version of the same book with the face of the author holding her chin. Surrounding the iPad and the book is a candle, a pine cone and some petals of yellow flower. Right: A picture of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris with views of the round-about and the roof of another building in front of the Arc.
Left: jens.book.nook / Right: josuecopete

Although Matzneff has been making references to his preferences towards underage girls in his books for years, Springora’s memoir illustrates the damage caused by such an inappropriate relationship. I look forward to reading more of her work in the future, and as difficult as it was to get through “Le Consentement,” it is worth the read.

Leïla Slimani

If you’ve seen the French movie Chanson Douce” (“The Perfect Nanny”), then you may have heard of Leïla Slimani’s work without even realizing it! It’s based on Slimani’s novel of the same name, which went on to win the Prix Goncourt, a prestigious French literary award, in 2016. Slimani is a French-Moroccan author who also serves as a French diplomat for an international organization that represents Francophone countries like her native Morocco.

Left: A beautiful photo of the Eiffel Tower taken from a high standpoint where you can also see the surrounding buildings, the trees lining the streets, and a white van. It also shows the sunset approaching the sky. The sky is blue but also orange with a few streaks of clouds. Right: The book "Chanson Douce" by french author Leïla Slimani is lying possibly on a mattress. Beside the book is an unlit white candle. On top of the book is a pair of glasses.
Left: zachasato / Right: moroccan_serial_reader

Victoria Mas

I immediately became interested in Mas after I read her novel. She is only a few years older than I am and has already has a debut under her belt, “Le bal des folles (“The Mad Women’s Ball”).The book, although being a work of historical fiction, takes place in a real hospital in Paris. The English translation of the book is scheduled to be published in 2021.

Left: The book "Le bal des folles" by french author Victoria Mas is lying in a piece of white cloth and a gray knit. A circular arrangement of eucalyptus leaves and flowers surrounds the book. There are also 2 small pots of beautiful cacti. Right: A woman on a bicycle is pictures crossing the street towards the Eiffel Tower. The sun shines behind the Eiffel Tower giving an amazing light to the street and the cycler. Her shadow was perfectly captured in this photo.
Left: enlivrons_nous / Right: wonguy974

I was introduced to Victoria Mas through a book club in Paris that I belong to called The FBC Paris. If you’re interested in discovering some incredible female authors, I definitely encourage you to look into it! As of now, all of their sessions on done on Zoom, so anyone in the world can join.

Yasmina Reza

Left: A bird's eyeview of the Basilique du Sacre Coeur is captured with its surrounding buildings, all mostly in different shades of gray. The blue sky can be seen in the back too. People can be seen coming in and out of the church. Right: A woman's right hand is holding the book "Arte" by french author Yasmina Reza. In this photo, the woman's hand and the book are focused while the background of bookshelves with books is blurred.
Left: world_walkerz / Right: fedabooks

I first discovered Yasmina Reza when I was in a French language course in my early years in Paris. Reza is most well known for her plays, but many of them read like a novel. I personally loved “Le Dieu du carnage” (“God of Carnage”). If you want to try your hand at reading in French and you’re a beginner, I definitely suggest it.

Reza specializes in satire and much of her work is centered on middle-class families and their struggles. She has won many awards over the course of her career, including several Molière Awards for best author.

Delphine de Vigan

Delphine de Vigan’s debut novel, “No et moi” (“No and Me”), took the French literary world by storm in 2007. The book tells the story of an unexpected friendship that develops between two teenage girls: one who is gifted and has an IQ of 160, and one who is homeless and living in poverty.

Left: A photo of the book "D'après une histoire vraie" by french author Delphine Vigan is posed on a surface beside a pair of glasses and 4 other unknown books that are stacked on top of one another. Right: A view of Haussmannian buildings, their rooftops and their details, can be seen with an orange sunset sky and the Eiffel Tower at a distance.
Left: mamzaile / Right: dubyo

Her breakout novel won several prizes, was translated into over twenty different languages, and has even been made into a film. After the success of her book, De Vigan decided to write full-time and has since published several other works including “Rien ne s’oppose à la nuit” (“Nothing Holds Back the Night”) and “D’après une histoire vraie” (“Based on a True Story”), which is her first psychological thriller.

Related Links

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we may receive a commission (at no additional cost to you). Thanks for supporting the blog in this way so we can continue to provide you with fabulous content. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions.

Written by Molli McConnell 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. 

Written By

Molli McConnell

Molli is American and has been living in Paris for over 6 years, where she completed her master’s degree in Literature. In her spare time, Molli runs a book review website that focuses on female writers. When not writing, you can find her in a cafe with a coffee in her hand and her nose in a book. View Molli McConnell's Website

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe without commenting

Vacation Rentals for Those Who Don’t just Travel, they Experience.

Boutique rentals from our trusted partner Haven In

Paris · Provence · Tuscany · London
ALL RENTALS
Join the HiP Paris Community
Receive our exclusive newsletter w/special offers, deals, giveaways, unique recipes from published authors plus insider travel tips and insights only for HiP readers.