Please join us in the Bookshop for an evening to celebrate the writer Nathalie Léger's novel Exposition, which has just been translated from the French and published by Les Fugitives, a London based publisher specialising in translated fiction.
An invitation to curate an exhibition on the theme of ruin crystallised Nathalie Léger’s fascination for the life, and death, of the Countess of Castiglione, a flamboyant aristocrat who, over the course of four decades, returned to the same studio in Paris to be photographed. There, she posed in different tableaux to immortalise moments of her public life, while also toying with fabricated personas. Hundreds of these images have survived, ghostly remnants of a no-less haunting existence that ended in abject poverty band isolation.
This is a book about the birth of photography, and, in particular, portrait photography.
While excavating the history of the haughty and seemingly unique Countess, Léger also revisits the portraits of other women. In examining the myths around icons past and present – Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, Robert Mapplethorpe, Marilyn Monroe, Bert Stern, Isabelle Huppert and Roni Horn – she meditates on the half-truths of portrait photography, reframing her own family history in the process.
Nathalie Léger is the author of four experimental novels based on her research work as a curator. She is also the Director of the IMEC in Paris, a unique institute dedicated to the archives of 20th- and 21st-century French writers and publishers. Her UK debut Suite for Barbara Loden (2015) has garnered intense critical acclaim on both sides of the Atlantic. Exposition, first published in France in 2008, has been described as the first part of a trilogy including Suite for Barbara Loden ( Scott Moncrieff Prize 2016) and her latest novel inspired by Italian performance artist Pippa Bacca, The White Dress ( Booksellers’ Award, Prix Wepler 2019), to be published by Les Fugitives at the end of March.
The event will comprise of a reading of an excerpt in English by the translator Amanda De Marco, a reading of an excerpt of the French original by the publisher Cécile Menon, and an interview of the translator by Jonathan Gibbs, followed by a concluding Q&A session.
Amanda DeMarco is a writer and a translator of German and French literature. She has received grants and fellowships from MacDowell, Yaddo, the city of Berlin, the European Union, PEN, and the Fulbright Foundation. Her criticism focuses on the works of contemporary writers in translation, and women with controversial legacies such as Can Xue, Christa Wolf, and Susan Sontag. It has appeared in the TLS, Wall Street Journal and many other places. She is working on her first book.
Jonathan Gibbs is a writer and critic. His most recent novel, The Large Door, was published by Boiler House Press last year and his reviews have appeared in the Guardian, TLS, Brixton Review of Books and elsewhere. He teaches Creative and Professional Writing at St Mary's University, Twickenham, and also curates the online short fiction project A Personal Anthology (www.apersonalanthology.com), in which a weekly guest gets to dream-edit an anthology of their favourite short stories.
Bookshop, Wed 19 Feb, 18.00 - 20.00
Free event, no Booking.