Almost as soon as the European Languages Across Borders blog was created, it started recording prizes for French language books (see French prizewinners for 2013). Before that, French literary prizewinners already featured in the webpages dedicated to Cambridge University Library’s French Collections. Prizes have long been an indicator of literary and cultural trends, reflecting the reception of contemporary writing, and contributing to its promotion and diffusion, on a national and international level. 2022 can be remembered as the year when Annie Ernaux became Literature Nobel Prize laureate. Prizes are also a useful tool in collection development. Here is a list of French and Francophone prizewinners for 2021-22. Among Francophone prizes, the Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe et du Tout-Monde still has to be awarded.
Comar d’Or: En pays assoiffé / Emna Belhaj Yahia, Des Femmes Editions, 2021, C206.d.6950
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Colonised by the Spanish and then the French until its successful revolution and independence in 1804, Haiti plays an important role within Francophone literature. However, it still bears the traces of the catastrophic 2010 earthquake (which claimed between 100,000 and 300,000 lives), followed by an extended period of political uncertainty and upheaval. This was further aggravated by the 2016 Hurricane Matthew (which, though less lethal, left 175,000 people homeless). This series of disasters has meant that at Cambridge University Library, sourcing books published in Haiti has been challenging. Over several years, our regional supplier Libros Latinos was not able to travel to the country. However, as is often the case for Francophone literature, many Haitian authors are also published in Canada and France, whether they are still residing in Haiti or have emigrated.
One example is the writer and publisher Rodney Saint-Éloi, born in Haiti, who founded the publishing house Mémoire, as well as the magazine Cultura and the journal Boutures. He moved to Québec in 2001, is a member of the Académie des Lettres du Québec, and in 2003 created the publishing house Mémoire d’encrier, based on the principle of cultural diversity:
Mémoire d’encrier publie des auteur.e.s québécois.e.s, autochtones, antillais.e.s, arabes, africain.e.s… représentant ainsi une large plate-forme où se confrontent les imaginaires dans l’apprentissage et le respect de la différence et de la diversité culturelle. Continue reading →
Multilingualism is a crucial part of the diversity of library collections, although it presents challenges in terms of linguistic expertise from both librarians and readers. We have written previously about Francophone Quebecois literature and want to highlight here the work of literary societies and the importance of French language literature produced by indigenous writers in Québec, through a list of recently published works.
Kwahiatonhk! is an association dedicated to the promotion and dissemination of “la littérature et les livres autochtones”, whose name means “we write!” in the Wendat language. It is based in Wendake, two urban reserves of the Huron-Wendat Nation in Quebec. Kwahiatonhk! organises literary events, such as the Salon du livre des Premières Nations (SLPN), which started in 2011, with the sponsorship of the Wendake bookseller and publisher Librairie Hannenorak. It is the only festival entirely dedicated to indigenous literature in Quebec, offering events in both French and English.
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Stanisława Przybyszewska was a Polish writer and dramatist who was born in Kraków in 1901, and was most widely known for her burning interest in the French Revolution. This was immortalised in her trilogy of revolutionary plays: Dziewięćdziesiąty Trzeci (Ninety-third), Sprawa Dantona (The Danton Case), and Thermidor, which were often published together after her death in one volume, Dramaty (e.g. 758:53.d.95.725).
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Cambridge University Libraries just started a one-month trial of RetroNews, a database from the Bibliothèque nationale de France, which provides access to about 2000 (primarily French) newspaper titles published between 1631 and 1950. Part of its content is available only by subscription, in contrast to the BnF’s freely accessible material on its digital library Gallica (only 150 of the 2000 RetroNews titles are also available on Gallica).
The subscription to RetroNews offers advanced access to the digitised periodicals and advanced search functions, in particular the option to download results in pdf or text format. It should also be possible to extract search results in csv or xls format; and to request the extraction of text and metadata of a specific search. RetroNews provides access to 4000 items of new editorial content produced by academics and journalists, including articles, interviews, videos, and podcasts / readings of the newspaper pieces by professional actors. Continue reading →