Hello, Chris!

It’s quite possible you came across bad translations. They sadly abound and make me thrum with frustration because they seem to lose so much of a book’s original soul and occasionally even misunderstand the author and their culture.

I was very surprised at how niche world literature is in the U.S. (when it’s always been my default as early as I could read, perhaps because French publishing houses invest more in foreign works than U.S. ones) and also at how recently some French literary treasures have been translated into English, like Marguerite Duras. One fantastic imprint doing great work is Open Letter Books, based out of the University of Rochester, NY. I discovered them through my public library and have been hooked ever since.

Although I’m very fond of French, I think English may suit me better because it’s far more direct yet incredibly nuanced. However, I’ve also found that I sound quite different depending what language I use. Alas, Medium isn’t exactly the place for anything other than English those days. Anything in “foreign” hardly ever gets read, which is a great pity.

Lastly, books in French are a pain to come by in the U.S. and frightfully expensive but there’s a secondhand online outlet where you can find wonders provided you know what you’re looking for. They’re called Better World Books and sales proceeds fund literacy projects. Consider this a hint and a nudge about reading French again!

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