JEAN GIONO (1895–1970) was born and lived most of his life in the town of Manosque, Alpes-de-Haute-Provence. Largely self-educated, he started working as a bank clerk at the age of sixteen and reported for military service when World War I broke out. He saw action in several savage battles, including Verdun, and was one of only two members of his company to survive. After the war, he returned to his job and family in Manosque and became a vocal, lifelong pacifist. With the success of his first published novel, Colline (Hill), which won the Prix Brentano, he left the bank and began to publish prolifically. During World War II Giono’s outspoken pacifism led some to accuse him, unjustly, of defeatism and of collaboration with the Nazis; after France’s liberation in 1944, he was imprisoned and held without charges. Despite being blacklisted after his release, Giono continued writing and achieved renewed success, with works such as Un roi sans divertissement (A King Without Diversion--forthcoming from NYRB) and Le hussard sur le toit. He was elected to the Académie Goncourt in 1954.
PAUL EPRILE is a longtime publisher (Between the Lines, Toronto), as well as a poet and translator. His first translation, Jean Giono’s Hill (Colline), was published by New York Review Books in 2016. Giono’s Melville, A Novel (Pour saluer Melville), has just appeared. Eprile is now working on a third Giono novel, also to be published by NYRB, The Open Road (Les Grands Chemins).
ALYSON WATERS translates modern and contemporary French and Francophone literature. In 2012, she won the French-American Foundation/Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize for her translation of Eric Chevillard’s Prehistoric Times. Her translation of Jean Giono’s A King Without Diversion is forthcoming from New York Review Books. She teaches at Yale University.
EMMANUELLE ERTEL is Clinical Associate Professor of French Literature, Thought, and Culture at NYU. Her translations from English to French include novels by Louis Begley, Rick Moody, and Tom Perrotta. Most recently she translated Hanyah Yanagihara's A Little Life (Buchet Chastel, forthcoming).