Up From Brittany: A New Voice on the French Literary Scene


Pierre-Alain Tilliette is a Breton writer, who lives with his family in Paris, where he is Conservateur des fonds étrangers at the Bibliothèque de l’Hôtel de Ville. The tragi-comic inventiveness of his fiction, with its Gaelic humor and extraordinary linguistic virtuosity, has made a small stir in France, but is still virtually unknown in the English-speaking world. His first novel, Gapos: vies chimériques, published by LePassage in 2011, described in Le Monde as “une des excellentes surprises de ce début de l’année” (“one of the delightful surprises of the beginning of this year”), placed him squarely in the lineage of Rabelais to Joyce. In 2015, Tilliette’s second Bildungsroman-gone-awry, Un sentiment humain, lived up to that promise: “déroutant de complexité mais toujours saisissant” (“puzzling by its complexity but always engaging”).Tilliette’s humane sensibility and hilarious use of popular French idioms propel the reader forward through the inchoate yearnings of a motley assortment of characters whose fates play out in an ancient house on the Brittany coast.

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