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(Hybrid) Dispatches from Insomnia with Marie Darrieussecq

Wed February 7 @ 19 h 30 - 20 h 30


Celebrated French author Marie Darrieussecq joins us at the Library to discuss her new book, Sleepless–a literary, philosophical, and scientific meditation on sleep and wakefulness.

Sleep is a basic and essential bodily function, but it is not always easily achieved. We have all experienced it at one time or another: a night of sleepless torment, in which our minds refuse to slip into unconsciousness, even despite our exhaustion.

For decades, Marie Darrieussecq has struggled with insomnia. She is in good company, especially among writers: famous literary insomniacs include Marcel Proust, Franz Kafka, Virginia Woolf, Marguerite Duras, and Georges Perec.  In her new book Sleepless (translated into English by Penny Hueston), Darrieussecq explores the contours of her own sleepless nights and finds camaraderie with the sleep-deprived writers of days gone by. Combining memoir, literary history, cultural criticism, and photography, Darrieussecq flits between various cultural histories of sleeplessness, including considerations of motherhood, homelessness, travel, and meditation. Described in the Los Angeles Review of Books as being “like an encyclopedia composed according to the logic of dream sequences”, the book is a witty and poetic kaleidoscope of restlessness.

About the speaker:

Marie Darrieussecq was born in Bayonne in 1969 and is recognized as one of the leading voices of contemporary French literature. Her first novel, Pig Tales, was translated into thirty-five languages. She has written more than twenty books. Text has published Tom Is Dead, All the Way, Men, Being Here: The Life of Paula Modersohn-Becker, Our Life in the Forest, The Baby and Crossed Lines. In 2013 Marie Darrieussecq was awarded the Prix Médicis and the Prix des Prix for her novel Men. She has written art criticism and journalism for a number of publications, including Libération and Charlie Hebdo, and is also a translator from English and has practised as a psychoanalyst. She lives in Paris.

Learn more:

Darrieussecq recently appeared in conversation with novelist and poet Deborah Levy and cultural critic Lauren Elkin–both of whom were also recent guests at the American Library! Watch their conversation here. 

A review in The Guardian calls Sleepless “electric” and “musical.” Read the review here.

You can find an excerpt from Sleepless here, through the MIT Press Reader.

About Fitzcarraldo February at the Library:

This program is part of Fitzcarraldo February, a series of events at The American Library in Paris featuring authors who have recently published books with the London-based independent publisher Fitzcarraldo Editions. 

Known for their distinctive blue and white covers, and esteemed for their highly selective catalogue, Fitzcarraldo is the leading publisher of innovative, boundary-pushing literature. Founded in 2014 with the mission to publish only twenty-two works per year, the publishing house has already established itself as champion of the most exciting and ambitious literary voices of our time, including four Nobel Prize-winning writers: Svetlana Alexievich (2015), Olga Tokarczuk (2018), Annie Ernaux (2022), and Jon Fosse (2023). The Library is delighted to welcome Marie Darrieussecq, Thea Lenarduzzi, Claudia Durastanti, Vanessa Onwuemezi, Kirsty Bell, and Brian Dillon, all of whose work explores the frontiers of genre, form, and craft, challenging us to rethink what writing can do.

Important information: The discussion will be available both online and in person. While the conversation will happen in person (the speaker will appear in the Reading Room), the Library will stream the conversation on Zoom for a live viewing experience. Both in-person and online attendees will be able to pose questions.

Attendance at this event constitutes permission for your photograph or video to be taken at the event and used by the American Library in Paris for marketing, promotional, pedagogical, or other purposes.

Read along with the Library! If you want to prepare ahead of this event, copies of Sleepless and Pas Dormir will be on sale one week in advance, as well as after the event. Stop by Member Services to purchase your copy. Books are generously provided by Smith&Son and Tome7.

Attendees will have the opportunity to have their copy signed following the conversation.

Evenings with an Author are free and open to the public (with a 10€ suggested donation)
thanks to the generous support of Gregory Annenberg Weingarten of GRoW @ Annenberg.


Wed February 7
19 h 30 min - 20 h 30 min
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(Hybrid) Dispatches from Insomnia with Marie Darrieussecq
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