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2024 Longlist

The Birthday Party

Translated from the original French by Daniel Levin Becker
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ABOUT
THE BOOK

Buried deep in rural France, little remains of the isolated hamlet of the Three Lone Girls, save a few houses and a curiously assembled quartet. While Patrice plans a surprise for his wife’s fortieth birthday, inexplicable events start to disrupt the hamlet’s quiet existence. Told in rhythmic, propulsive prose that weaves seamlessly from one consciousness to the next, Laurent Mauvignier’s The Birthday Party is a deft unravelling of the stories we hide from others and from ourselves, a gripping tale of the violent irruptions of the past into the present, written by a major contemporary French writer.

ABOUT
THE AUTHOR Laurent
Mauvignier

Laurent Mauvignier was born in Tours in 1967. He gained a degree in Fine Art from the École des Beaux-Arts in 1991, and published his first novel, Loin d’eux [Far from Them], in 1999. He has since written numerous novels, including In the Crowd (2006), The Wound (2009) and Continuer [Carrying On] (2018), all published by Éditions de Minuit, and is the winner of eleven literary prizes, including the Prix Wepler and the Prix Amerigo-Vespucci. He is also a playwright and has written scripts for TV and film. The Birthday Party is his first book with Fitzcarraldo Editions.

Laurent Mauvignier was born in Tours in 1967. He gained a degree in Fine Art from the École des Beaux-Arts in 1991, and published his first novel, Loin d’eux [Far from Them], in 1999. He has since written numerous novels, including In the Crowd (2006), The Wound (2009) and Continuer [Carrying On] (2018), all published by Éditions de Minuit, and is the winner of eleven literary prizes, including the Prix Wepler and the Prix Amerigo-Vespucci. He is also a playwright and has written scripts for TV and film. The Birthday Party is his first book with Fitzcarraldo Editions.

ABOUT
THE TRANSLATOR Daniel
Levin Becker

Daniel Levin Becker is the author of Many Subtle Channels and What’s Good, the translator of books including Georges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure and Eduardo Berti’s An Ideal Presence, and the youngest member of the Oulipo.

Daniel Levin Becker is the author of Many Subtle Channels and What’s Good, the translator of books including Georges Perec’s La Boutique Obscure and Eduardo Berti’s An Ideal Presence, and the youngest member of the Oulipo.

NOMINATING LIBRARY COMMENTS

In the isolated hamlet of The Three Lone Girls, Patrice, a farmer, has inherited the family’s farm and lives with his wife Marion and their daughter Ida near their neighbour Christine, a painter seeking peacefulness in rural life. But we soon understand that living in the country is not as calm as it seems. Quietness is only apparent as strange events start to happen. Christine receives anonymous, threatening letters, Patrice seems to suffer from frustrations, Marion feels indifferent and weary, latent suspicion is visible between the two women until a spectacular twist turns this social novel into a gripping thriller: While Patrice has gone to town to buy supplies for Marion ‘s birthday party, Ida and Christine are in the farmhouse when suddenly three strangers intrude and take them hostage. Every evening Marion reads stories from a book entitled “Stories of the night” to Ida before she goes to sleep. These tales are terrifying, and that’s exactly what happens to the characters during this stifling claustrophobic birthday party artfully rendered by Mauvignier. His intricate thriller is full of relentless suspense and his cast of characters is richly portrayed. He also draws an uncompromising portrait of rural life, of domestic intimacy and social violence. He uses long and winding sentences to delve into each character’s inner thoughts and the rhythm of the narrative is slow. He revisits the thriller-writing conventions thanks to his remarkable literary style suffused with details and psychological insights. The action takes place over two days and the tension never abates. The novel also questions class divide, domestic abuse and how one’s backstory and secrets can have unpredictable consequences in the present.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Date published
18/01/2023
Country
France
Original Language
French
Publisher
Fitzcarraldo Editions
Translator
Daniel Levin Becker
Translation
Translated from the original French by Daniel Levin Becker
Borrow this book from Libraries Ireland

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