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Stéphane Audeguy, French-style daydreamer

Stéphane Audeguy will be another inspiring representative of the Francophone literature to attend the Open Book Cape Town festival– along with Véronique Tadjo and Alain Mabanckou. On September the 23th, he will evoke his work and discuss his acclaimed novel “The Theory of Clouds” – find the full program here. He will also give a public lecture at Wits university (Jo'burg) on September the 27th. Lesser known to African audiences, the French-born Audeguy writes in a distinctively poetic style that connects him to prominent figures of contemporary literature as Kazuo Ishiguro or Julian Barnes. Before his conference, Intofrench offers you a portrait of the author through his books.

Praised débuts

A critic favourite and a best seller, Audeguy's ground-breaking first novel “The Theory of Clouds” tells the story of Virginie Latour, an aimless librarian that slowly finds a sense to her life by listening to the tales of the ageing fashion magnate Akira Kumo. An improbable survivor of Hiroshima horrendous bombing, Kumo is a retired misanthrope who has developed a burning passion for... clouds. He hired Latour to organize his impressive collection of precious manuscript retracing the history of the aerial masses. To the fascinated young women, he recalls the fate of the few humans who have entirely devoted their lives to clouds. There is Luke Howard, the quiet Quacker from from London who has been the first to imagine a rational classification of clouds. The obstinate painter Carmichael comes next, who lost his mental health trying to paint them. It is then Richard Abercrombie, who developed a theory of “universal analogy” linking the shape of the clouds to other curvy objects as brains or vaginas. As an expanding cumulus, Audeguy's novel inexorably grows to embrace the destinies of these passionate characters in a very sensitive prose. It ultimately gives a delicate – if at times improbable – account of their lives.

Original sequels

Audeguys has written three more novels since the release of “The Theory of Clouds”, of which only the second one has been translated in English. A sarcastic and very funny work, “The Only Son” is an autobiography of Jean-Jacques Rousseau's elder brother – a character that has been totally forgotten by history. In this fictional revenge, the great philosopher's sibling offers a gruesome counter-narrative of his brother's life, mocking the romantic effusions of his style and challenging his memory. In his two last novels, Audeguy carries on with his unconventional literary approach. “Nous Autres” depicts a European son's peculiar quest of his father's remains in Kibera, Kenya's biggest slum. The just published “Rom@” is the story of the Eternal City as told by... itself. “Why would a city not be able to speak, just as the animals in the fables?” the author acutely asks. One of French contemporary literature most daring and original voice, Audeguy is not to miss in Cape Town the 23th of September!

 

Hadrien Diez

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