Anne-Marie the Beauty (Paperback)
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Another thought-provoking master class in how we perform life by the award-winning novelist and playwright Yasmina Reza.
"I was bored with my husband," says Anne-Marie, the irrepressible voice of Anne-Marie la Beauté, "but you know, boredom is part of love." Mostly she is speaking here of her more famous friend and colleague, the French actress Giselle Fayolle, in whose shadow she has spent her career. "My life was a near miss," she adds, before explaining that she enunciated well because "I loved to say the words." A very short novel with the power and resonance of a much longer one, Anne-Marie the Beauty is a profound and moving act of remembrance, a clear-eyed assessment of the hard-edged nature of fame, a meditation on aging--and a wonderfully observant and comic exploration of human foibles. In short, another thought-provoking master class in how we perform life by the peerless Yasmina Reza.
About the Author
Yasmina Reza is a novelist and playwright. Her plays Conversations After a Burial, The Unexpected Man, Art, Life x 3, and God of Carnage have all been multi-award-winning critical and popular international successes, translated into more than thirty-five languages. Art was the first non-English language play to win the American Tony Award. God of Carnage, which also won a Tony Award, was adapted for film in 2012 by Roman Polanski. Her novels include Babylon (Seven Stories, 2018), which won the Priz Renaudot and was shortlisted for the Prix Concourt; Desolation; and Adam Haberberg. Anne-Marie La Beauté is her most recent novel. She lives in Paris. Alison L. Strayer is a Canadian writer and translator. Her novel Jardin et prairie was shortlisted for Canada's Governor General's Award for Literature and the Grand Prix du livre de Montreal. Together with the French memoirist Annie Ernaux, Strayer won the Warwick Prize for Women in Translation and the French-American Translation Prize and was shortlisted for the International Man Booker Prize for her translation of Ernaux's The Years. Strayer's translation of Infidels by Abdellah Taïa was longlisted for the Albertine Prize, and her co-translation of Rencontres fortuites by Mavis Gallant was shortlisted for the Governor General’s Award for Translation. She lives in Paris.
"Anne-Marie ... [shares] her view of life as a great arc in this brief yet richly symbolic, humorous, and poignant tale."
:A little gem on the wiles of memory and the doggedness of time."
"Gossipy, confiding, frequently hilarious, Reza has sketched a rich portrait of an ageing actress looking back on her ‘near miss’ of a life, its small triumphs and petty jealousies, her not quite stellar career, her love-hate relationship with the more famous Gigi Fayolle, her parent’s unhappy marriage, her dull provincial origins, her dislike of her own son. Come for the scorching one-liners, whispered sotto voce, as if the reader were an intimate, but stay for the bittersweet meditations on ageing, anxiety and life’s inevitable disappointment."
—Marina Benjamin, author of Insomnia
"This short monologue by award-winning novelist and playwright Reza follows the life and career of Anne-Marie. Having grown up in Saint-Sourd-en-Ger, France, a mecca for actors, Anne-Marie catches the acting bug and at age 19 travels to Paris to audition. There she meets the famous actress Giselle Fayolle, who becomes a source of influence and fascination. Moving back and forth in time, Anne-Marie relives her many roles on the stage and laments the ones that passed her by. In describing her family, she says her husband is boring and organized, but in a good way, and that her son will no doubt buy the cheapest urn when she dies. She wonders if her titanium knee joint will be cremated with her. As she ages and moves toward the end of her life, she concludes, “You start out as little people, and you’re little people in the end.” Anne-Marie often refers to herself in the third person, as if she is someone else.
VERDICT Reza triumphantly creates a nuanced and powerful portrait of aging that will resonate with ambitious readers."
"Alison L. Strayer’s deft translation captures Anne-Marie’s tone, which is no mean feat in a text so abundant with idioms, idiosyncrasies, and poignant comedy. Anne-Marie the Beauty is a hymn to the unknowns: to those who have lived, loved, and worked outside of fame and recognition. . . . This is a work that forces you to ask the question of every name you hear: “Who are they? Who are they really?”
—Sarah Moore, Asymptote Journal
"This novel reminds us that dreams are sometimes more precious than the real thing."
—Kira Josefsson, Vulture