Albertine Brings French Books to NYC

(Photo via Albertine Books on Facebook)

(Image via Albertine Books on Facebook)

Francophone readers will be able to buy books in French in Manhattan! On September 27 the bookstore and reading room Albertine will open, located at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States, at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and 79th Street. Albertine takes it name from a character in “Remembrance of Things Past,” the novel by Marcel Proust.

For several years one hasn’t been able to buy books in French in New York, since the 2009 closing of La Libraire Française, a private bookseller, at Rockefeller Center. The Cultural Services of the French Embassy took the initiative and hired François-Xavier Schmit, owner of a bookstore in Toulouse, to manage this new bookstore. Its mission is not only to sell books in French, but also works by French authors translated into English. “At bookstores in the U.S., about 3 percent of the books are in foreign languages, while in France the share is about 50 percent. It’s virtually a public service to sell books by French authors translated into English,” he said.

The bookstore will also host meetings and discussions with French and American intellectuals on subjects dealing with the economy, art or even politics. A festival will take place October 14-19, curated by the American writer Greil Marcus. This festival will feature the creator of the series “Mad Men,” Matthew Weiner, the novelist Emmanuel Carrère, the mathematician Cédric Villani, the Nobel prizewinner in economics Joseph Stiglitz, the director Olivier Assayas and the illustrator and director Marjane Satrapi.

The bookstore, which occupies 150 square meters (1,615 square feet), was designed by architect Jacques Garcia [Editor’s note: It will resemble, according to the website of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, “a grand private French library. The two-floor space includes a reading room and inviting nooks furnished with lush sofas and armchairs.”]

Albertine will offer a general selection of many thousands of works: novels, comic books, children’s books and language instruction books. It will be inaugurated on September 26 at 6:30 p.m. by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. He will discuss not only literature, but, curiously, climate change and environmental problems, with Charles H. Ferguson, the director of “Inside Job.” By invitation only.

Albertine, 972 Fifth Ave. (at 79th Street) New York, NY. 10075. Hours: Monday – Thursday, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday 11 a.m to 10 p.m. Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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