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 languages.
   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.

Short Story Collections

A Life in Pictures: Stories
(Small Beer Press, 2010)

reviewed by Tania Hershman

Interview with Georges-Olivier Chȃteaureynaud
(translated by Edward Gauvin)

The Short Review: How long did it take you to write all the stories in your collection?

Georges-Olivier Chȃteaureynaud:   As 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. The 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.

TSR: Did you have a collection in mind when you were writing them?

G-OC:   I 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. These 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.

TSR: How did you choose which stories to include and in what order?

G-OC: 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.

TSR: What does the word "story" mean to you?

G-OC:  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.”

TSR: Do you have a reader in mind when you write stories?

G-OC:  My ideal reader would be at once very much like me yet able to see things in my stories I’d never thought of.

TSR: Is there anything you'd like to ask someone who has read your collection, anything at all?

G-OC: Dear reader: what questions do you have after reading the book?

TSR: How does it feel knowing that people are buying your book?

G-OC: I’m happy to have made someone curious enough to buy my book. I’m even happier when it becomes a habit.

TSR: What are you working on now?

G-OC:   Since 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.

TSR: What are the three most recent short story collections you've read?

G-OC:  In no particular order: Jean-Yves MASSON : Ultimes vérités sur la mort du nageur (Verdier) Marie-Hélène LAFON : Organes (Buchet-Chastel) Bernard QUIRINY : Contes carnivores (Seuil)
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