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.