Tuesday, 1:00 pm EDT May 18, 2021
Online via Zoom
French author Maylis de Kerangal explores the contours of contemporary art and the profession of painting in her new translated novel Painting Time. The story follows her protagonist, Paula Karst, as she navigates art school and travels the world, resolutely dedicated to the craftsmanship of depicting real objects over the abstraction of high art.
The Center for Fiction will host de Keranga and her book’s translator Jessica Moore to discuss the launch of Painting Time and the art of the translated novel. The conversation will be moderated by author and literary critic Lydia Kiesling (The Golden State).
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Maylis de Kerangal
Maylis de Kerangal
Maylis de Kerangal is the author of several books in French, including Naissance d’un pont, (published in English as Birth of a Bridge), which won of the Prix Franz Hessel and Prix Médicis in 2010; Réparer les vivants, which won the Grand Prix RTL-Lire and the Student Choice Novel of the Year from France Culture and Télérama and whose English translation, The Heart, was one of the Wall Street Journal’s Ten Best Fiction Works of 2016 and the winner of the 2017 Wellcome Book Prize; and Un chemin de tables, whose English translation, The Cook, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. She lives in Paris.
Jessica Moore is an author and literary translator. Her first book, Everything, now (Brick Books 2012), is a love letter to the dead and a conversation with her translation of Turkana Boy (Talonbooks 2012) by Jean-François Beauchemin, for which she won a PEN America Translation award. Mend the Living, her translation of the novel by Maylis de Kerangal, was nominated for the 2016 Man Booker International. Jessica’s most recent book—The Whole Singing Ocean (Nightwood 2020)—blends long poem, investigation, sailor slang and ecological grief. She lives in Toronto.
Lydia Kiesling is the author of The Golden State, a 2018 National Book Foundation “5 under 35” honoree, and a finalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. She is a contributing editor at The Millions and Zyzzyva and her writing has appeared at outlets including the New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, the New Yorker online, the Cut, and the Guardian.
By Maylis de Kerangal
Published by Macmillan
In Maylis de Kerangal’s Painting Time, we are introduced to the burgeoning young artist Paula Karst, who is enrolled at the famous Institut de Peinture in Brussels. Unlike the friends she makes at school, Paula strives to understand the specifics of what she’s painting—replicating a wood’s essence or a marble’s wear requires method, technique, and talent, she finds, but also something else: craftsmanship. She resolutely chooses the painstaking demands of craft over the abstraction of high art.
With the attention of a documentary filmmaker, de Kerangal follows Paula’s apprenticeship, punctuated by brushstrokes, hard work, sleepless nights, sore muscles, and long, festive evenings. After completing her studies at the Institute, Paula continues to practice her art in Paris, in Moscow, then in Italy on the sets of great films, all as if rehearsing for a grand finale: at a job working on Lascaux IV, a facsimile reproduction of the world’s most famous paleolithic cave art and the apotheosis of human cultural expression.
An enchanted, atmospheric, and highly aesthetic coming-of-age novel, Painting Time is an intimate and unsparing exploration of craft, inspiration, and the contours of the contemporary art world. As she did in her acclaimed novels The Heart and The Cook, Maylis de Kerangal unravels a tightly wound professional world to reveal the beauty within.
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