Inspiration all around as a Frenchman talks about cooking, childrearing, embarrassing language gaffes, and writing... in today's entretien with Marc Levy
Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Marc Levy's books are available now, for the first time, in English! Learn about this former Red Cross worker who, in the decade since he began writing, has become most-read French author in the world. To all who dare to follow their dream... may today's interview give you wings!
un entretien (ontr-tee-en)
1) an interview
2) management/service (a car check-up, etc...)
Audio File: Listen to our daughter, Jackie, read the following sentence: Download MP3 or Wav file
Aujourd'hui, lisez mon entretien avec l'écrivain Marc Levy.
Today, read my interview with the writer Marc Levy.
A Day in a French Life... by Kristin Espinasse
Do you find it enormously reassuring to learn that someone's remarkable success happened later in life? Does it fill you with hope to discover that the respected novelist or chessplayer or... started out as a first-aid worker—unaware of a nascent talent within him?
As a lifelong student of writing, nothing motivates me like another's bumpy or unlikely journey to literary success. It makes me believe that it's not too late to pen The Classic and Universal Story... the one that could be enjoyed by all generations till the end of time!
Reading about French author Marc Levy, and how he changed professions several times before happening upon his calling—as a writer, I am encouraged to plumb the depths of my own vocational well. Could it be that in this mad pursuit of writing, chess is really my calling?
One thing's sure, French will open doors either way. So it's a safe bet to continue pursuing language! I think even Mr. Levy would agree. Enjoy his words, below, about France, culture, and writing.
...And, after reading the interview, take time to consider: the dream job you are so passionately pursuing (or currently practicing) may be, after all, but a means to an even more stimulating and meaningful métier--the one your heart is diligently fine-tuning, while you are busy chasing your dream!
:: Entretien avec Marc Levy ::
1. Why did you choose to leave France and make a home for yourself in the States?
Believe it or not, I originally left France to go to England, which makes me a terrible Frenchman. (There is a rivalry between England and France that dates back several centuries.) I had fallen in love with London and the British sense of humor, and I lived quite happily there for ten years. I then moved to the States because I also harbored a deep love for New York City. My son had also decided to study in the U.S., so my longstanding desire to be in New York provided the perfect pretext for me to follow him and play the overprotective parent! But in all seriousness, I was attracted to the multicultural, multiethnic aspect of New York. 163 different communities and ethnic groups shared their lives there—it was as if the whole world had gathered in one place, and that place was New York. It was a city in color that I wanted to be a part of.
2. You have a love for food and cooking. What differences do you see in the American vs. the French approaches to cooking and dining?
The French cook with less of everything: salt, oil, sugar, sauce, etc. It is fascinating to see, in fact, how much flavor you can produce when you do this. But I’ve noticed that many new French restaurants are now adopting the trend of overusing ingredients.
The main difference between restaurants in Paris and New York? The noise. I’ve been in some restaurants where there is more noise in the dining room than food on your plate. A restaurant in Paris that played its music as loudly as New York restaurants do wouldn’t last more than a week. When we invite friends out to dinner, we usually want to talk to them, not yell at them.
3. You have an older son who was raised primarily in France and a young son whom you are raising in New York. What differences do you see in the French and American parenting cultures?
My older son was actually raised primarily in London. It's a bit difficult for me to comment on contemporary French parenting culture, since I've been living outside of France for the past 15 years, but as far as I can tell, there aren't too many differences. As parents, we all love our children with the same heart and want the best for them.
I suppose one subtle difference might be that in France, we focus less on the psychology of the child and more on his or her practical education. For example, when I was at a friend's house, she had told her son he couldn't do something and he responded, "You're hurting my feelings!" Our French friends laughed, as this is not very French—it would not garner a French child much sympathy when being scolded or told no. Perhaps French parents are more old-fashioned, stricter in this way...or at least, mine were with me.
4. Some language learners are fearful of speaking English to a French person, afraid they’ll make an embarrassing mistake. Did you ever humiliate yourself in English? Any examples you are willing to share?
I do this every day. One example that comes to mind is something I once said to a woman in the street. She was trying to light her cigarette, but her lighter wasn’t working, so as a proper French gentleman would, I offered her my own. I asked her, “Do you want my fire?” After she had left, the American friend I was with burst into laughter. When I asked him what was so funny, he explained to me why that had been a ridiculous thing to say. I was absolutely mortified!
5. Humor, or a good joke, is often “lost in translation”, making it even more difficult to adapt as an expat. Did you ever find it difficult to appreciate the sense of humor in your adopted country, or to share your own sense of humor?
Yes and no. Humor is one of the most important things in my life—it’s like a drug to me. I have watched so many comedies and read so many books to try to better understand American and British humor. What I have discovered is that the jokes we make are often very specific to culture, sometimes only understood in the country they are from. For example, a joke about cheerleaders that Americans find hilarious would be confusing to the French, because we don’t have cheerleaders in France.
Living in a new place, you come to understand that it is much more difficult to share your sense of humor, but as implied in my answer to your previous question, sometimes you can make people laugh without knowing why.
6. There are some colorful expressions in French, such as “faire du lèche-vitrines” or “avoir un oursin dans sa poche”. Can you share a favorite French expression?
One of my favorites is “Ce n'est pas tombé dans l'oreille d'un sourd”. The English equivalent is “It hasn’t fallen on deaf ears,” or that the information has been fully understood, but translated quite literally, it would be “It hasn’t fallen into the ear of a deaf man.”
7. Regarding pronunciation, what do you think about accents? (i.e. when speaking English, do you strive to lose your own French accent? Conversely, what do you think when hearing someone struggle to pronounce French?)
I would love to do that—if only I could get rid of the “z” and say “the” one time, as it should be! But in regard to hearing a foreign accent in French, I find it very charming, and never ridiculous. Especially when an American woman speaks French, it’s so sexy.
8. Regarding things getting lost in translation, how do you feel about having your French words—so thoughtfully chosen during the writing process—translated into English, or another language, now that your books are being made available worldwide?
It’s a real concern. The initial English translation of my first book was so bad, it really killed me and almost ruined the story. For a writer, finding a translator who understands your writing is as difficult as an actor finding the voice that will dub over his own. (Dubbed voiceovers for foreign movies and television shows are very common in France.) Translators are constantly underpaid and underappreciated, but their role is so important that they should really get a part of the royalties. They aren’t just translating, but adapting the text, and to do so, they must be good writers.
When I received corrections for the English translation of my second novel before it went to print, I sat down with both versions in front of me, trying to go through and compare every word. In the middle of this, the doorbell rang and the mailman arrived with the Chinese manuscript. I went back to my desk and closed everything. I learned that day that after a certain point, you must trust that the translator likes and understands your work, and wants to accurately reproduce it.
9. It is both fascinating and inspiring to read about your path to writing, and the failures that brought you there. In one interview, we read about some of the words of wisdom you shared with your son. You said, “The biggest mistake you can make in your life is to avoid any mistake by not doing anything.” Could you please translate that into French for us, and so leave us with the courage to pursue our own dreams?
“La plus grande erreur que tu pourrais faire dans ta vie serait d'avoir évité toute erreur en n'ayant rien fait.”
Please help me to thank Marc Levy for taking the time to talk to us today. Click here to leave a message and keep the conversation going in the comments box. Which answers, above, interested you the most? I'd love to read your response to Marc Levy's words, here.
A little more about Marc Levy + Win a trip to France!
With 13 novels published over the past 12 years—all of which have been #1 bestsellers in France and many other countries worldwide—Marc has nearly 30-million copies of his books in print in 45 languages.
Before his first novel, If Only It Were True, was published in the U.S., Steven Spielberg acquired the film rights for DreamWorks. The movie, Just like Heaven, starring Reese Witherspoon and Mark Ruffalo, was a #1 box office hit. Since this remarkable introduction, US readers have not had easy access to Marc's subsequent work. That is, until now.
International e-book publisher Versilio is now releasing the English translations of Marc Levy's novels through Amazon, iTunes, and Kobo. Lovers of all things French—as well as fans of authors like Jodi Picoult, Sara Gruen, and Anita Shreve—should be thrilled for the introduction to this treasure trove of novels by France's best-known writer.
What's more, Versilio is running "The Marc Levy Paris Getaway Sweepstakes" in the US from Monday, December 1st through Sunday, February 10th, 2013. First prize is a long weekend in Paris for two, including roundtrip airfare and hotel. Other prizes include an iPad loaded with Marc's novels and a full library of Marc's novels in ebook. To be entered to win, participants need to answer 5 questions about Marc Levy's novel All Those Things We Never Said. Winners will be announced on Valentine's Day.
Click here for the Paris Sweepstakes information.
A Message from Kristi: Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal week after week. If you find value in this website and would like to keep it going strong, I kindly ask for your support by making a donation today. Thank you very much for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.
Ways to contribute:
1. Paypal or credit card
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Or purchase my book for a friend, and so help spread the French word.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety
I'd never heard of Marc Levy until today, so will look forward to hunting down my first volume. Thanks, Kristi!
Posted by: Maureen from Freiburg | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 01:18 PM
Wonderful set of questions and loved the answers as well! My favorite response was probably about the translation though and Marc's reaction after the Chinese manuscript arrived...we do need to trust those who are "helping" us to care enough about our/their work to do it justice because there is a whole lot of things out there that we just have no control over and we don't need the stress of the worry. But I am also aware of my "control freak" self and wanting everything with my "name on it" to be a good reflection of me!
Posted by: R T Hobbs | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 01:37 PM
As an American who has written a book in French and then translated it into English, I appreciated everything you had to say about transitioning between languages and countries. The French emphasis on practicality as opposed to psychology was an eye-opener. I hope you'll suggest the right book for me to start with.
Posted by: David Simmons | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 01:41 PM
Great interview, look forward to more of them! I never heard of Marc Levy, look forward to his books. Thanks!
Posted by: Sierra Dante | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 01:47 PM
As an American thinking about living in France part time,peute être dans Paris ,and as well a writer after practicing veterinary medicine for over 30 years,and struggling to learn French, I appreciate the well done interview.
I,myself,started my journey as a New Yorker,migrated to Orlando,Florida and now visit France souvent. I have found the small French villages to be most inspirational as well as the frenetic city of Paris. I always find it encouraging reading about Americans moving to Paris to pursue the next chapter in their life.
Posted by: Linda R | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 01:50 PM
I am a born and bred New Yorker. There is no place on earth like it. Having said this, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Marc's comments to questions regarding the differences between New York and Paris/France. I have a true and abiding love for all things French and, like so many Americans, I wish to some day be able to actually carry on a conversation entirely in French! I am thrilled that my youngest son is quite proficient in French and it makes my heart sing when I hear him speak this beautiful language. I had an opportunity to do this to my heart's content when we met in Lyon last year while he was on vacation during his time serving in the Peace Corps in West Africa. Thank you for your views on such cultural differences. This is an education in itself. Best, Deena
Posted by: Deena S. | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Thank you Marc and Kristin! As a budding writer it is always great to hear about another's journey on the road to becoming a writer.
A big thank you! Maria
Posted by: Maria | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 02:11 PM
The only book in French that I have read is Marc Levy's "Ou es tu?" and loved it. I have three more in my library and am now inspired to pick one up and try to get through it with unsatisfactory French.
Posted by: Jim Boughter | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 02:52 PM
Marc et Kristin, Congratulations to both of you on your success, and Thank You for the inspiration. Aloha, Bill
Posted by: Bill Facker | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 02:58 PM
Kristi Darling & FWAD FRIENDS,
Once again you have opened new doors for my spirit and mind to travel down on this exciting day in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
I AM INSPIRED !!! Thanks to your amazing interview with my newly adopted friend Marc Levy. Ever since I opened your email this morning I have been transported with a NEW ENERGY AND EXCITEMENT about this precious life God has given me - and with you and Marc's help through this benchmark interview I has been flying around my house with a new deterimination (sp?) to rise up and follow that hidden spark. I exited my cozy bed with the wonderful view of the jungle palm trees and danced into my office ( the office my darling husband John had prepared for me many, many years ago for my new life here in Mexico nine years ago on January 14, 2004 when I returned to him after a two year seperation. YES, THIS OFFICE HAS BEEN WAITING FOR ME TO WAKE UP AND CLAIM IT FOR 9 YEARS!
How could I have been so blind and stubborn (sp?) to reject this gift from my precious John all of these years as I pouted in my bedroom and painted on my terrace studio.
OF COURSE I WANT TO WRITE - JUST LIKE YOU KRISTI - to find my way down this path of life - to find that door that will lead me to truthful and pure writing just as you have Kristi.
I have the music playing in the background - my little notebook from Paris that you gave me years ago....I wonder what is in there, I haven't used or looked into it for years.
We were born to communicate - a few minutes ago I got down on my knees (with the help of the desk and chair) and committed to starting my day on my knees before God - next to the desk He arranged for John to give me all those years ago. I am here now Dear God - thank You for sending Kristi into my life to help show me the way to the exciting life you have planned for me all along.
P.S. Kristi Darling could you consider setting up an account for me to have a Kindle so I can start out by reading MARC LEVY'S books. I did a quick search about Marc and have already learned so much about writing just by investigating his books. At this very moment I can't remember the exact title of the book that grabbed at me but the cover was just what would click with me....an angels feather stuck in the interworkings of a clock.....plus the cover had his name in large print just the way I have been nagging you to do over the years. Please remember to enlarge your name on the cover of your next book.
Well, I guess I have been ramble'n along - I love you Kristi - you are the greatest thing that ever happened to me...I am so proud of the way you handled your interview with Marc....your questions were so intelligent and enlighting (sp?) it was so nice to see this super-professional side of you...all grown up and doing an important interview. Wish this had been on video - that would have been really cool. Maybe next time.
I am so happy this morning - thanks for setting the tone with your priceless interview.
Posted by: JULES GREER - PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:08 PM
Thank you Kristin for an extraordinary post! A great introduction.
And thank you to Marc for being so down to earth open.
Up until now the contemporary French literature was limited for me with Anna Gavalda, love her books.
You've ignited my never subsiding Francophile's curiosity. Now I'm heading to Amazon for Levy's downloads.
Thank you very much.
Posted by: Natalie | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:13 PM
What a joy I had reading your interview with Marc Levy. I look forward to locating and reading his books. My husband and I love visiting France and enjoy reading things connecting us to it. You both did a marvelous job with the interview. Keep on writing!
Posted by: Krista Peterson | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:15 PM
As others here have said, I had never heard of Marc Levy until I got my French Word-A-Day email this morning; I, too, will try and find his books. Can't wait! Plusiers Merci beaucoup, Kristin! Et, a vous aussi, Msr. Levy!
Posted by: Alyssa Ross Eppich | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:31 PM
Delete the Plusiers above, lol!
Posted by: Alyssa Ross Eppich | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:31 PM
that was fab!
is it really true that marc finds it sexy when an american woman speaks french?could that be how all french people feel?where is his wife from?
Posted by: lal | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:35 PM
Glorious interview! Thank you, Kristin, for introducing us (me) to Marc. Marc, your thoughts on NYC had me reminiscing on the five years I lived there. I enjoyed the insight into French/British culture and humor. As somewhat a collector of 'wee bits of widsom,' I appreciated the one-liner advice to your son. And to you both, always inspiring to read stories about those who reinvent their lives and follow their dreams!
Posted by: Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:44 PM
What a stretch in reaching and, actually, GETTING a star!
Posted by: Francesca | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 03:51 PM
JULES .. I swear, your wonderful Spirit could wake the dead and make 'em smile! Aloha, Bill
Posted by: Bill Facker | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:02 PM
really enjoyed the interview, thanks so much, very interesting about the translations, and about the dubbing with actors ;-)
Posted by: Adan Lerma | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:08 PM
Thank you so much for making it possible for us to get to know Marc Levy through your wonderful interview. Not only is he, obviously, very talented but also so very charming. I laughed out loud reading about his translation faux pas and loved his comments about New York (being a native New Yorker, myself). Marc's words of advice to his son are very wise -- and we would all do well to heed them!
Posted by: Cassie Alexandrou in Dallas, TX | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:18 PM
As a middle-aged American woman learning French as a requirement for an English Lit degree (and because I've always loved the language and will be traveling to France soon), I was comforted to hear M. Levy say he finds the accent sexy when an American woman speaks French.
Posted by: Renee | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:27 PM
Bravo! Always looking for new things to read.....LOVE the fact that M Levy has lived in my 3 favourite places and I love the quote that I shall now copy and paste into my email sign-off! Merci!
Posted by: Patti | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Quelle coincidence! J'ai juste fini le roman, "Le Premier Jour," le premier roman par Marc Levi ce que j'ai lu!
Posted by: Jim Steffens | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:44 PM
Hey, he's famous!! Fun interview to read. I've read several of Marc's books (in French).
Posted by: meredith | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 04:50 PM
My first trip to France I was 12 and a baggage man with a dangerous cart shouted "attention" to me and I didn't know the word. Four years later I began to dream in French. I felt assimilated. Thank you for your thoughts in whatever language.
Posted by: karen skilling | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 05:32 PM
Thank you so much Marc and Kristen, that was wonderful. I am a native San Franciscan who lived in Paris as a child and who visits there quite often; I only wish all French people found Americans speaking French "sexy". Doesn't matter, I adore France (and London; totally understand your great attraction to that city, Marc) and I always start dreaming of my next French trip before my plane ever pulls away from the gate at de Galle.
Posted by: Reese | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 05:36 PM
Thanks for posting your Marc Levi interview. I'll look for his books. Having just taken a curse on translation, I was interested to hear Marc's take on it. I continue to enjoy FWAD and am looking forward to my time in Sablet in April.
Posted by: Dave Wilson | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 05:40 PM
Thank you for the lovely cigarette-lighting story. Here's one of my gaffes -- I was rushing away from a cafe to teach a class, leaving my husband behind to pay the bill. (He doesn't speak French.) So, I said to the serveuse words to this effect, "Je vous confie mon mari. Il va vous payer." (I entrust my husband to you. He will pay you.)
Posted by: Ronnie Hess | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 05:46 PM
I was so happy to hear a Frenchman say that one must not fear mistakes and simply DO life. So many of my French friends are hesitant about speaking English because they fear mispronouncing words, making grammatical errors, etc. but if they knew MY mistakes in French (ordering four sailors at the beach instead of mattresses, for example!), they would have no fear at all. And I love that he thinks an American speaking French is sexy....I'll remember that next time I order my sailors....
Posted by: suzanne dunaway | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 05:51 PM
Thanks, Kristin & Marc, for a fascinating interview, and encouragement to pursue my dream of becoming a singer in my later years (four score will be visible on the horizon soon !)
Posted by: Ned Harris | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:09 PM
Thank you to Marc and Kristin! I am an expat myself (though not a French one), living in the US, and very interested in Mark's comments on comparison of cultures, languages, and even parenting styles. I look forward to reading Mark's books.
Posted by: Anna | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:20 PM
I enjoyed the interview very much.
I read "Et is c'était vrai..." in my French class not long ago and enjoyed it very much as well.
I was born in NYC, live in Yorkshire, but Paris is my favorite city.
Posted by: Sue jean | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:27 PM
Thanks, Meredith, and everyone for your comments! I was excited for the chance to interview this author (thanks, Marc, if you are reading!) and so endeared by his thoughtful answers.
Mom, what Bill says is true! XOXO
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:28 PM
P.S. Keep the stories of language gaffes coming... And share your dreams, too--it is a delight to read every comment.
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:33 PM
I loved the post today. I can't wait to order his book. Thank you.
Posted by: Catherine Dallas, TX | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:39 PM
I really enjoyed the Marc Levy interview. I especially liked his answer about enjoying someone's accent when trying to speak French, because that is the thing I am most self-conscious about when speaking any French word to a native French speaking person! Now I feel very much more encouraged to just go for it!
Posted by: Scott Miners | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 06:42 PM
I think your last question for him and his response were so meaningful. It is indeed easy to "...avoid any mistake by not doing anything."
Edie from Savannah
Posted by: Edie Schmidt | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 07:12 PM
Thank you, Marc and Kristi, for a glimpse inside the mind of a writer. I would be devastated to see my work mistranslated after working so hard. Marc, you are to be congratulated for your maturity in handling those situations. Enjoyed comments about restaurants and parenting. We have trouble here finding a restaurant quiet enough for lunch as that's when we want to talk, but it's not so much the music as the crowds. I enjoyed the French response to children trying to gain sympathy. Looking forward to finding your books and reading them.
Kristi, comme toujours, merci!
Posted by: Diane Young | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 07:23 PM
What delightful news to know when we return to the States from France we'll be able to get Marc Levy's books in English.
My French remains dreadful, though I use it in a stumbling and humbling manner everyday while in France. Was thrilled to get encouragement for my efforts.
A wonderful interview: bravo Kristin. M. Levy,I eagerly look forward to reading your books.
Posted by: Ronni Ebbers | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 07:27 PM
Very interesting interview, and I , like so many others, will be looking for Marc Levy's works. I enjoyed his comments on US restaurants and children and most of all his comment on American women speaking French and sounding so sexy. I will have renewed courage to speak French, even with mistakes. Thank you, Kristen amd Marc.
Posted by: Michelle Flessor | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 08:35 PM
What a wonderful interview! Thanks for making me laugh and smile on question #4: I asked her, “Do you want my fire?” hahaha that was FANTASTIQUE!!! :)
I wish I could have seen the woman's face when she was asked that question. :)
I can't wait to read Marc Levy's books! Thanks Kristen and Marc!
Posted by: Lisa A.,Los Angeles, CA | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 08:57 PM
purchased - will let you know thoughts.
Posted by: [email protected] | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 09:11 PM
I want to read the book, ordering it today, for me, but also for entering the contest. I have not found the questions... !! EEEGAD. Where are they? Help!
I am already enamoured with Mark Levy..What a cutie, as well! Thank you so much, Kristi, for everything you do for us, stuck over here, (LOL). My gaffe: I complimented a little girl's hair in Chartres. Her mother kindly told me I had told her daughter that she has beautiful horses!
Blessings on you for this website and all it teaches us..with entertainment, as well!
(Speaking of gaffes, I saw in the comments that one fan was taking a translation curse.:)
Posted by: Tonya in Arkansas | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 09:38 PM
To Tonya in Arkansas:
Funny about "horses-hair"! :-)
Someone I know, once thanked somebody else for "his worm words". Of course, his accent was responsible, nothing else! :-)
Posted by: Francesca | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 10:26 PM
I read Et si s'était Vrai in French. I loved it - so romantic and mysterious - and it was pretty easy for me, an advanced intermediate level student of French. Highly recommend it if you are looking for practice reading French and a lovely novel. But I know it's been translated into English as well.
Posted by: leslie | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 10:26 PM
I should have said Et si c'etait vrai. Not afraid to make mistakes, I guess. Nice interview, Kristin, and a coup to get it, how did that come about? Will it be published anywhere else? Very interesting and enjoyable to read. Marc Levy is going to become even more successful and famous, I'm sure.
Posted by: leslie | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 10:47 PM
Great interview Kristin! Love the format! Marc is personable and his answers to your questions make for a pleasureable read.
Posted by: Melinda | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 11:33 PM
I loved the interview, Kristin. M. Levy's anecdote about asking the woman in NYC if she would like to use his "fire," was particularly striking. Perhaps it is just my own mental process, but that question would not cause me to bat an eyelash. It seems charming, literal, poetic, and perfectly comprehensible to me. I actually have heard that question posed by people for whom English is not their primary language, and thought nothing of it, except perhaps that it was a nice image to contemplate. Perhaps, that is also why my daughters seemed to bring home every foreign exchange student they encountered at school. We understood them and encouraged them to continue to express themselves in word pictures rather than stressing themselves about perfect idiomatic expressions. People who have tried to learn other languages will be sympathetic and helpful, rather than critical. Goodness, it really hasn't been too long in human history since we literally borrowed fire from others--and an offered lighter does precisely that!
Posted by: Mary Catherine Pace | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 11:53 PM
ahhh, how this has made me smile and laugh out loud about the 'lighter incident'. Being Danish, and having been brought up by my mum who taught English, German, French and music + a stepfather who was from Belgium (speaking to him is always a good concoction of Danish, English and French which always makes me laugh, I'll correct his Danish and English, and he my French - never boring that's for sure)so lots of comings and going of many intertesting nationalities, and soooo many 'misunderstandings' amoung everybody who visited, but soooo much fun and I learnt so much. Having now lived in London for many moons and spending a fair time in la belle Provence, there are still many funny language obstacles happening and for sure many more to come, but being able to communicate with each other no matter what our mother tongue may be, is just wonderful, as we all learn so much on the way. I'll be reading some more of Marc Levy's wonderful books :)
Posted by: Lis Steeden | Wednesday, January 30, 2013 at 11:59 PM
Thank you Kristin for your interview with Marc, which has stimulated my desire to write of my life over the last 11 years, beginning my travels to France from NZ and Australia which I began when I was 72. Now 83 and have so many wonderful stories to tell because it has not only been to France but USA, Holland and Spain and UK during this tine and I have always travelled on my own. My life has been enriched and given me the best years of my life. I also wish to read Marc's books and have decided to save for a kindle. I have never achieved anymore than basic skills with French , although can read it quite well but I guess my accent is quite amusing, but I have alwqays been able to make myself understood and always give thaks to the French for being so patient with me. I think being"ancient" as I was once told helps.
Au revoir,June,Gold Coast
Posted by: june furey | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:47 AM
Glad to hear He does not mind a non french person trying to speak with the french accent. I personally feel that the french people appreciate that you try to speak the way the language should be spoken. Hope to get my hands on his book. Great job on the interview Kristi!!
Posted by: DeeDee McDonald | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 03:02 AM
Etant perfectioniste, j'ai aimé la phrase dans la dernière question (9)! Comment un auteur, livre, devient un phénomène mondial? Marc Levy viendrez vous à la journée du livre à Sablet et vous Kristin? je vous souhaite une bonne journée. Jos
Posted by: jos | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 08:38 AM
Thank you, Kristin for introducing your many readers to Mark Levy with your excellent interview. I look forward to reading some of his books soon.
I was especially interested in his comments about translations of his books and thought he might enjoy reading an interview with my son in Atlantic magazine (Oct. 24, 2011) about his method of translating
contemporary Japanese literature.
Thanks, too, Kristin, for sharing your mother's comments, always such a pleasure to read.
Ginny in Tucson. AZ
Posted by: Ginny Ross | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 09:28 AM
Jos, Here is hoping Marc Levy will make it to the Sablet book fair. I would love to participate too, but have never tried to get in.
Ginny, That sounds like a great article about your son and the translation process.
Answering these out of order, this morning... enjoying every word. Thanks!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 10:47 AM
Well, I just have to echo what everyone else has said in their comments. As usual, a delightful piece. As for making mistakes in another language. I could write my OWN book called "Getting Into Dutch, In DUTCH" .. but, alas there would be something lost in translation. The Dutch wouldn't hava a clue what I was talking about.
Posted by: Linda Casey | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 12:18 PM
regarding sablet journée du livre, may be a good idea to meet up with the organisers as soon as possible, would be please to be your go in between if needed? Personnellement, thinking about how many English speaking there are in the région it would be fun! Cordialement. Jos
Posted by: jos | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 01:45 PM
Thank you Kristin for sharing this interview with Marc Levy. I am sorry, i didnt know who he is...but i am now keen to find out more.
I am an Indian who is back home (Bombay) after spending 15 months in Brittany, France. When I read Marc Levy's comments on aspects of French cooking like 'The French cook with less of everything: salt, oil, sugar, sauce, etc', i felt that the comparison stands so true to Indian cooking as well which in contrats is so spicy. During my stay of France, i got so accustomed to less spice and less sugar in desserts that it took me some effort to return to my former days.
Again, I not only identified but lived his comment on humour,
"Living in a new place, you come to understand that it is much more difficult to share your sense of humor, but as implied in my answer to your previous question, sometimes you can make people laugh without knowing why"
Finally, having acquired some competencies in french language while in France and now pursuing the language chez Alliance Francaise de Bombay, the expression “La plus grande erreur que tu pourrais faire dans ta vie serait d'avoir évité toute erreur en n'ayant rien fait.” holds great value to me....thank you once again.
Posted by: Sheetal GOEL | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Thank you, Sheetal, and best wishes settling back in, in Bombay, and bon courage with any reverse culture shock.
June, happy to hear that you will write your memoir!
Mary, meant to say that I so enjoyed your remark about fire :-)
Jos, so kind of you. I will keep your offer in mind :-)
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 04:00 PM
My students and I enjoyed the post so much. I had not heard of Marc Levy before and am looking forward to checking out his books! I loved your interview, Kristin! It was very interesting for my students and I to read your questions and Marc's thoughtful answers. It definitely gave us some lively discussions in class yesterday. I absolutely loved Marc's quote at the end and many of my students copied it down. Thanks again for the wonderful post yesterday!
Posted by: Julie Schorr | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 07:08 PM
Thanks for the interview..I just returned from France after living there for 9 years.
I miss it very much...I will get M. Levy's books as I am a avid reader and always look for new authors to read. (although he is not new) I am glad you interviewed him..Merci!!
PS I like his comment "the French cook with less salt, oil, sugar, etc...It is true..I have eaten in many French homes!! and you can taste the flavor of the food with less of everything!! Thanks encore!!
Posted by: Alice Wilson | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 07:10 PM
What an inspiration !! I shall now try to speak French as best I can on my next trip (insread of feeling too embarrased )I am an old bird,and maybe they will take that into cosideration as I can hardly be thought of as "sexy' these days...Thanks Kristi ...and Marc
Posted by: Anne | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 09:17 PM
Thank you, thank you, thank you!
Loved the answer to #4, I laughed out loud, seriously. I needed the laugh, I appreciate the story and the humor : )
Posted by: Patty Austin near Bethesda, MD | Thursday, January 31, 2013 at 11:28 PM
It is interesting to hear Marc's thoughts on translators and the process of translation. Yet, I just read If Only This Were True and the translator was not listed on the book. Is it done by a team?
Posted by: Nadine Lomakin | Friday, February 01, 2013 at 06:21 AM
Just fascinating! What a marvelous interview, Kristin! I am searching now for which of his books I want to read first!
P.S. My husband's hip replacement surgery went wonderfully well! He has almost no pain and is just trying to be patient and not do too much, so he doesn't 'undo' the fine work the surgeon did. A blessing! Thanks for asking about him! I still plan on sending you the waffle recipe - think I'm going to make some for him as a treat tomorrow!
Posted by: Judi Boeye Miller, Lake Balboa, CA | Friday, February 01, 2013 at 07:08 AM
Nadine, not sure, and if it was a team of translators I would think that would be even more nerve-racking for an author whoo has painstakingly searches for le mot juste!
Judi, so happy for this update! Thank goodness your husband isnt in pain and the hip surgery went so well. He definitely deserves home-made waffles, and so do you!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Friday, February 01, 2013 at 07:54 AM
Thank you for the wonderful interview. I had never heard of Marc Levy before but I can't wait to read his books. Merci Kristine - you are such an inspiration to me. Jane in Tallahassee.
Posted by: Jane Johnson | Friday, February 01, 2013 at 12:07 PM
I enjoyed reading the interview with Marc Levy. I had never heard of him before but I look forward to reading his books. I just downloaded "All Those Things We Never Said."
About the "fire" comment...I would have said..."Come on baby, light my fire!" He's quite handsome!
Posted by: Eileen - Charlottesville, VA | Friday, February 01, 2013 at 06:53 PM
Met your "mama"at the Marina Vallarta!
Charming interesting, pleasant,creative,etc., and she left us with a gift.....a bundle of 'ENERGY'.
A very delightful lady.
Theresa& Jacques..........from Quebec.....La Belle Province !!
Posted by: Theresa &Jacques | Tuesday, February 05, 2013 at 05:54 AM
Theresa Jacques, so happy to see your note. My dear mom! That is so her! Merci encore, your report has left me with a bundle of energy. Moms light just keeps on shining!
Posted by: Kristin Espinasse | Tuesday, February 05, 2013 at 07:24 AM
Great insight. Though Paris, and many other large cities, are also multicultural and multiethnic. New York is the center of money. A French person turned into a New Yorker, quelle horror! ;)
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Posted by: pit 37 2013 | Saturday, October 05, 2013 at 03:24 PM
Thanks for the interview, it's very interesting to read about someone who lived in different countries.
I don't understand what is ridiculous “Do you want my fire?”. Could someone please explain me?.
Posted by: Benjamin | Sunday, October 20, 2013 at 10:22 AM
Definitely sneak it into a (good) friend's yard to commemorate an occasion!
Posted by: Avril Rustage-Johnston | Friday, July 25, 2014 at 06:17 PM