To Laugh or To Cry?

February 2, 2022 | By Nick Hammond | Books

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 | By Nick Hammond | Books

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 | By Nick Hammond | Books

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

Le Dernier Enfant

Lurching Toward Melodrama

January 13, 2021 | By Nick Hammond | Books

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

Marcel Proust


November 25, 2020 | By Nick Hammond | Books

Note to readers: You may choose to read this commentary on the work of Proust here or listen to it on the audio file at the end of the article. Ever since I started these lockdown literary excursions last March, … Read More