A state of emergency has been declared in France. In Lyon, protesters and police clash in the streets. At the unemployment office, there are few job opportunities for poets going around. So the poet reads accounts of life under the Third Reich and in Nazi language, smokes cannabis, walks through the streets, and eats bananas, drawn by an overbearing father into a hilarious and often cynical exploration of the push to be employed and the pull to write. In this Oulipian experiment written without gender markers for its narrator, Noémi Lefebvre presents us with a comic and irreverent reckoning with the rise of nationalism and the hegemony capitalism has on our language, actions, and identities.
Praise for Blue Self-Portrait
"Blue Self-Portrait wraps its difficulties in mercurial humor and wordplay, gamely translated from the French by Sophie Lewis. It’s inviting enough to read and re-read, and dense enough to provoke different responses each time."—The Wall Street Journal
"Blue Self-Portrait is inventive and funny—as well as clever—cycling at breakneck speed through the atrocities of the 20th century."—The Millions
"Blue Self-Portrait may be the antidote to our condition of having too many things on the mind."—KQED
"Blue Self-Portrait glances askance at the mythos of male genius and the mute, compliant notion of womanhood on which it relies."—Public Books
"A probing, wild, and fascinating novel."—Publishers Weekly
"These subjects, ranging from anxiety that his sexual desirability is dependent on his girlfriend imagining she’s sleeping with the next Schoenberg, to the paralysing effect of nazism on art, to beautiful insights into the compositional process, ensure that the book is no melancholic meditation on lost loves. For a comparatively short novel, Blue Self-Portrait yokes together an extraordinary profusion of ideas."—Eimear McBride, The Guardian