I have to talk to you about a series of books I love. So keep reading and discover the Malaussène saga…
This book series is sometimes known in English as the Belleville Quartet but in fact it is composed by five full-blown novels and two shorter ones.
“La saga Mallaussène” has been written by Daniel Pennac, a french writer. But I reassure you, if I talk about him here it’s also because it has been translated in English by Ian Monk.
Daniel Pennac (real name Daniel Pennacchioni) was a teacher before he became an author. He first wrote for children but then came the saga. He also wrote a pedagogic essay Comme un roman (The rights of the reader) and received the “prix Renaudot” in 2007 with his essay Chagrin d’école (school blues). He writes in a humorous and imaginative style that can’t be compared with anyone else. And that I guess must have been difficult to translate because of the heavily idiomatic dialect he uses.
Now let’s talk about the saga itself.
The scene takes place in popular Belleville, a district in eastern Paris. The novel is set in the 1960’s but the author doesn’t give us any specific date. All the stories center around the main character and his misadventures: Benjamin Malaussène.
This character is a “scapegoat”, a man hired by different businesses to take the blame for whatever goes wrong. But in the end, it’s for him that many things turn not in the way they should do.
His family and friends play a great part in the story as well. Here are some of the name you should know:
Julius is the epilectic dog, most of the time he forecasts the disaster to come. Julie Corençon a great investigative journalist is Benjamin’s big love. Thérèse, Clara, Louna, Jérémy, Le Petit, and Verdun are the five semi-sibblings of Benjamin. They all have the same mother who keeps falling in love and ends up by being pregnant.
But this family will extend and many other characters will take part in the life of Belleville and make the story incredible. Benjamin Malaussène adopt them all as a familly and so do you because when you read the book you can’t help but get attached to them.
Daniel Pennac has made a great job, he gets better and better with each one of his books. Once you start you don’t want to stop reading, it’s like when you were at school, in class, waiting for the break to come. Then you spent moments out of the world, out of the reality of your daily routine. It’s the same when you read the Malaussene saga. You dream, you laugh, you try to guess what will happen but never can because everything is too tricky. You’ll even believe in the most improbables situations, just because…
You don’t only read an elaborate thrillers but novels with a touch of criticism about the modern society and always in a light and funny way.
Here are the name in english and french:
– The Scapegoat, Translator Ian Monk, Harvill Press, 1998 : Au bonheur des ogres.
– The fairy gunmother, Translator Ian Monk, Harvil Press, 1997: La fée carabine.
– Write to Kill, Translator Ian Monk, Harvill, 1999 : La petite marchande de prose.
– Monsieur Malaussène, Translator Ian Monk, Harvill, 2003: Monsieur Malaussène.
I have heard that Au bonheur des ogres will be adapted for the cinema with actress Bérenice Béjo playing in it…