Ambulomania – Paris Book Fair

I walked for an hour at the “Salon du Livre”—an annual Parisian book fair—on Tuesday night for the “nocturne” with a French friend intrigued with the French literary world. The fair proved no exception for Parisians to practice their favorite sport—criticism—with whispers of “it’s not what it used to be” and “it’s just become a big business” from the publishers (only a few of them show up regularly now)…though the great writers nevertheless seem to return each year. The crowd, too, is interesting to watch: writers, fans, bookstore keepers, publishers, journalists…

Here are some characters I discovered on Tuesday. The fact that most people there had a genuine interest for writing surely made all of them worth a picture or note, but we only had room here for  a few (ridiculously quick) portraits…

Amelie Nothomb. A regular bestselling author, Belgian & attracted to Japanese culture, always wearing her hat, has a special relationship with her fans (often remembers their first name, and spends more time asking about themselves rather than talking about her own self). Also has a special relationship with other French writers (many are jealous of her success and her gains per book-almost 15%, a record in French publishing).

Frederic Beigbeder. Also a best selling author and influential publisher (Grasset), a very important western writer according to many Russians; he likes Bret Easton Ellis, enjoys flashes and stands for a certain French bourgeoisie (which he described it in his latest book, “Un roman français”), decadent and yet cultured and global.

Passionate Lady. Passionate about the Braille alphabet, she explained to the lady next to her how reading changed the lives of the blind people she was regularly working with. She deserves a fan crowd as long as Beigbeder’s (cf picture), I thought. She might not care as much though.

“The Gallimard”: signing their books in line, the “happy few” who got published by the most prestigious French publishing House (Gallimard): on the picture, Claude Lanzmann and Eric Fottorino (also editor of the most celebrated daily newspaper,“Le Monde”).

Happy Doctor. This Parisian doctor has written various books about the quest for happiness. The constant smile I observed on his face makes him credible. Perhaps the happiest writer I have seen in the hour.

Between Paris and New York. This worldwide famous cartoonist (Sempé) took his time to sign his latest book (Sempé à New-York) and to write very personal words for his fans, perhaps as humorous as his drawings. Passionate about jazz. Nostalgic for his years at the New-Yorker (with Saul Steinberg).

One Response to “Ambulomania – Paris Book Fair”
  1. This looks like a fantastic event. Simply the combination of Paris and books – heaven on earth! And the photo of the doctor who wrote about happiness – what a sincere smile.

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