Translated by Ros Schwartz
Publication date: 25 June 2019
Taking selfies is not the exclusive preserve of millennials.
In Selfies, Sylvie Weil gives a playful twist to the concept of self-representation: taking her cue from self-portraits by women artists, ranging from the 13th c. through the Renaissance to Frida Kahlo and Vivian Maier, Weil has written a memoir in pieces, that is yet unified. Each picture acts as a portal to a significant moment from Weil’s own life and sparks anecdotes tangentially touching on topical issues, from the Palestinian question to the pain of a mother witnessing her son’s psychotic breakdown, to the subtle manifestations of anti-Semitism, to ageism, genetics, and a Jewish dog...
‘A beguiling series of vignettes, by turns wry, amusing and disturbing, inspired by self-portraits by women artists and reflecting on the images they provoke. An illuminating survey of the author's various identities, in a fractured world, as mother, lover and writer.’ – Michèle Roberts
‘A new genre is born: the short selfie collection! Lively, inventive, compassionate, aching, morally complex and troubling, I loved these self-portraits more than anything I’ve read lately.’ – Lauren Elkin
'In Selfies Sylvie Weil uses a work of an artist to set the theme for a snapshot of a past episode in her life. These selfies are exquisite vignettes - intelligent, witty, observant, sometimes poignant, and beautifully written - the elegance of the original French apparent in this fine English translation.' – Piers Paul Read
'If yesteryear's painted self-portraits were as concerned with pose and presentation as are today's phone selfies, Sylvie Weil is the ideal analyst of what may lie behind the image. In a sequence of transpositions of the work of women portraitists from the Renaissance onwards, she applies their appearance to her experience, and implies a continuity in women's self-presentation. Like them, Sylvie Weil has an illustrious heritage (daughter to André a brilliant and renowned mathematician; niece to Simone, a brilliant and renowned philosopher). Unlike them, she moves from the visual to the verbal, expressive of both profound truth and imagination.' – Amanda Hopkinson