Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud on Wikipedia (French)
Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud is the author of nine
novels, two young adult novels, and over one hundred short stories.
Despite a lifelong fear of flying, he has been to Peru—his only time on a
plane—and lived to pen a travel memoir about the experience. He is the
recipient of the prestigious Prix Renaudot, Prix Goncourt de la nouvelle
(for short stories), Prix Giono, Prix Valéry Larbaud, and the Grand
Prix de l’Imaginaire. His work has been translated into fourteen
In 1983 and 1990, Châteaureynaud was a representative of the Foreign
Services Ministry to Quebec and then to Greece. He has been consistently
involved with the Centre National du Livre and the SGDL (Société des
Gens de Lettres de France). He plays an active part in fostering new
talent, serving on the juries of such diverse prizes as the Fondation
BNP-Paribas Young Writers Award, the international Prix Prométhée de la
nouvelle, the Prix Renaudot, and the Prix Renaissance. Châteaureynaud
sees his enthusiastic participation in these institutions as a way of
repaying the literary community that has allowed him the luxury of
dedication to his craft. An Officier des Arts et Lettres of France, he
is currently the editorial director of foreign literature at Editions
Dumerchez. In 2006, he was made a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur.
with Georges-Olivier Chȃteaureynaud
(translated by Edward Gauvin)
How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?
my stories vary greatly in length, the time it takes to write them
varies accordingly. Say 3 to 5 weeks for fifteen
pages or so. The longest and most difficult was Zinzolins
et Nacarats from Le Jardin dans l’île [Mauvians and Lilacites,
from The Garden on the Island]—about 80 pages—which took me from
1977 to 1988.
short answer is 30 years, give or take. The oldest stories in this
collection date from 1974, the most recent from 2002. The stories are
taken from 7 collections that appeared with various French publishers
from 1974-2005. In 1974, Grasset published my second collection of
short stories, La Belle Charbonnière [The Beautiful Coalwoman], and
the stories from the early 2000s were collected in Singe savant
tabassé par deux clowns [Talking Ape Clobbered by Clowns], which won
the Prix Goncourt de la nouvelle.
have a collection in mind when you were writing them?
come late to the idea of unifying my stories. Till quite recently I
would just go to my publisher when I had enough for a collection. I
would sit down and pick out the strongest, sometimes with the help of
my editor; the stories would be presented in chronological order of
composition. Readers, other writers, and even critics often tell me
there’s a great deal of coherence in my collections, but this has
always seemed completely accidental to me.
days the idea of the triptych intrigues me. In 2007, I put out a
triptych of thematically related stories, De l’autre côté d’Alice
[What Alice Found There], with Éditions Le Grand Miroir, each
centered around a figure from children’s literature: Alice
(Liddell), Peter Pan, Pinocchio. Next spring I’ll have another,
Résidence dernière [Resting Places], but in both of these the
stories are still arranged in order of composition.
you choose which stories to include and in what order?
My translator Edward did most of the choosing and ordering, and then
he’d run the list by me. There were some stories selected but, for one
reason or another, legal and otherwise, left out of the final
collection. A few of these are available in journals and anthologies,
like Epiphany, Postscripts, and Sentence.
does the word "story"
mean to you?
A setting (temporal and physical), characters, and an “event” that
forces the characters to react. The ensemble is, if everything goes
well, supposed to “make sense.”
Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?
ideal reader would be at once very much like me yet able to see
things in my stories I’d never thought of.
anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?
reader: what questions do you have after reading the book?
TSR: How does
it feel knowing that people are buying your book?
happy to have made someone curious enough to buy my book. I’m even
happier when it becomes a habit.
What are you working on now?
I just put out a novel in March, and I’m still waiting to see how i
twill do, I’m dithering among several ideas, none of them ripe
enough yet for the moment.
the three most recent short story collections you've read?
In no particular order:
MASSON : Ultimes vérités sur la mort du nageur (Verdier)
LAFON : Organes (Buchet-Chastel)
QUIRINY : Contes carnivores (Seuil)