‘L’autoportrait bleu calls to mind fine lacework, all fancy stitching, a delicate succession of interconnected loops. Nothing but beautiful work here. In this devilishly virtuosic text, which also evokes contrapuntal music, Noémi Lefebvre writes like a genuine composer. It’s rare to find a writer successfully able to lend a musical shape to their text. Lefebvre has taken up the challenge in this astonishing, vertiginous account.’ Le Figaro littéraire
The inner monologue of a woman haunted by German composer Arnold Schoenberg’s portrait, following a complex romantic encounter with an American-German pianist-composer in Berlin. As the irresistible, impossible narrator flies home she unpicks her social failures while the pianist reaches towards a musical self-portrait with all the resonance of Schoenberg’s passionate, chilling blue. A contemporary novel of angst and high farce, Blue Self-Portrait unfolds among Berlin’s cultural institutions but is more truly located in the mid-air flux between contrary impulses to remember and to ignore. Yet music is shown to continue to work on and through us, addressing past trauma while reaching for possible futures.
‘The dense, fine-tuned, ever perfectionist writing in this debut novel reinforces its immediacy, grips the reader to the point of obsession.’ L’Humanité
This book is supported by the French Institute (UK) as part of the Burgess programme, and is the recipient of a translation grant by the Conseil National du Livre (CNL).
Translation as Transhumance, by Mireille Gansel, translated by Ros Schwartz (November 2017).
This book is supported by the French Institute (UK) as part of the Burgess programme.
Laureate of a French Voices Award 2016, it will be published simultaneously by The Feminist Press.