Falling Off The Shelves

To most of France, the traditional September rentrée represents the depressing end of vacation and a return to toil for millions of workers, students and politicians. For the nation's publishing industry, by contrast, the September rentrée littéraire is a period of excitement and expectation, holding the promise of success and sales for some, acclaim and awards for others. This year has brought a new high of activity, with the first of nearly 700 new titles already flooding bookshops — and taxing the capacity of the book-buying public to absorb them all.

Literary pride has long been central to...

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