To Laugh or To Cry?

February 2, 2022 | Other | By Nick Hammond

Note to readers: To celebrate the 400th anniversary of the birth of the great French playwright Molière, we are republishing this commentary on his work, which first came out in Paris Update on November 18, 2020. A recorded version is … Read More


Night Train

January 26, 2022 | Fiction | By Nick Hammond

When we are informed at the beginning of Philippe Besson’s new novel, set on the overnight train from Paris to Briançon, that there will be deaths by the time dawn breaks, it would not be a complete surprise to find … Read More

Premier Sang

Diplomatic Training

January 19, 2022 | Fiction | By Nick Hammond

Even though Amélie Nothomb’s new book, Premier Sang, is not the first openly autobiographical novel she has written – Le Sabotage Amoureux (1993), Stupeur et Tremblement (1999), Métaphysique des Tubes (2000) and Biographie de la Faim (2004) all draw inspiration … Read More

Happy Days

Intuition of the Absurd

May 12, 2021 | Other | By Nick Hammond

Note to readers: You may choose to read this analysis of Happy Days here or listen to it on the audio file at the end of the article. This week, I am going to discuss a play created by one of … Read More

Oscar Niemeyer in France

The Shock of the Old

March 10, 2021 | Non-fiction | By Heidi Ellison

A half-century after Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012) designed the headquarters of the French Communist Party in Paris, it is still a shock to spot what looks like a flying saucer, as white as the back of a swan, gradually … Read More

Le Dernier Enfant

Lurching Toward Melodrama

January 13, 2021 | Fiction | By Nick Hammond

Philippe Besson’s new novel, Le Dernier Enfant, his 20th, bears many of the hallmarks of his most successful previous works. A few examples: His prose is concise and focuses on the inner thoughts of a few central characters. He chooses … Read More

Les Fleurs du Mal

The Depths of the Unknown

December 9, 2020 | Poetry | By Nick Hammond

To mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Baudelaire on April 9, we are rerunning Nick Hammond’s piece on him from last December. You may choose to read this analysis of Les Fleurs du Mal here or listen to … Read More