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Gavalda, Anna 1970-

Gavalda, Anna 1970-

PERSONAL: Born December 9, 1970 in BoulogneBillancourt, Hauts-de-Seine, France; divorced; children: two.

CAREER: Writer and journalist.

AWARDS, HONORS: Grand Prix RTL-Lirem, 2000, for I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere.

WRITINGS

Je voudrais que quelqu’un m’attende quelque part (short stories), [France] 1999, translation by Karen L. Marker published as I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Il était une fois—l’automobile, Roger-Viollet (Paris, France), 2000.

Je l’aimais (novel), Dilettante (Paris France), 2002, translation by Catherine Evans published as Someone I Loved, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2005.

95 Pounds of Hope (juvenile novel), translated by Gill Rosner, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Ensemble, c’est tout (novel), Dilettante (Paris, France), 2004, translated by Alison Anderson as Hunting and Gathering, Chatto & Windus (London, England), 2006, Riverhead Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Elle magazine. Books have also been translated into several languages, including Spanish.

ADAPTATIONS: Ensemble, c’est tout, was adapted for film, c. 2007.

SIDELIGHTS: Anna Gavalda is a French short-story writer and novelist. Her collection of short stories, I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, was first published to wide critical acclaim in France in 1999 as Je voudrais que quelqu’un m’attende quelque part. The stories are told by first-person narrators who are often seeking love and even more often finding heartbreak instead. In other stories, disastrous events follow everyday circumstances. For example, in one story, two teenage friends borrow a Jaguar from one of their fathers, crash into a wild boar, load it into the car, and then have the boar totally destroy the car after the boar comes back to its senses. Vin Patel, writing on the Bookreporter.com, noted that “at times, these stories may lead you to think more deeply about your own past, your secrets and fears.” A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that “this uneven but entertaining collection displays a deliciously Gallic insouciance.” Patricia M. Gathercole, writing in World Literature Today, referred to I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere as “entertaining and thought-provoking.”

In Gavalda’s novel 95 Pounds of Hope, the thirteen-year-old narrator, Gregory Dubosc, has attention deficit disorder, hates school, and suffers the scorn and teasing of his classmates. In the meantime, Gregory ponders the things he does like in life, including his grandfather and his love of woodworking. As Gregory tells his story, his grandfather is comatose but still coaches Gregory through life until one day Gregory is able to return the kindness by willing his grandfather back to health. Ed Sullivan, writing in Booklist, called Gregory “an interesting character with an engaging voice.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor called 95 Pounds of Hope“a hopeful, genuine story that will be an asset to any collection.”

In her debut adult novel, Someone I Loved, Gavalda tells the story of Chloe, who serves as the tale’s narrator. Through Chloe’s words, the reader learns of her husband’s infidelity and eventual abandonment, the attachment she forms with her father-in-law, and the subsequent revelation during a long conversation with her father-in-law that he was also unfaithful to his wife. Whitney Scott, writing in Booklist, noted the author’s technique of “using the conversation to explore the motivations and nuances involved in marriage.” A Publishers Weekly reviewer commented: “At the book’s best moments, mundane details mingle with Chloe’s despair to create an even deeper sadness.” Referring to the novel as “compelling,” a Kirkus Reviews contributor added: “Intense and immediate as a late-night conversation between lovers, this should draw readers to the best-selling Gavalda.” In a review of the French version of the novel, titled Je l’aimais, World Literature Today reviewer Lucille F. Becker wrote: “Gavalda’s talent for writing and her gift for dialogue make reading her work a delight.”

Gavalda is also the author of Hunting and Gathering, published in France as Ensemble, c’est tout. The novel tells the story of a group of oddballs and nonconformists who come together in Paris. A contributor to the French Book News Web site referred to the novel as “original, full of wry humour and razor-sharp observation.”

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2003, Ed Sullivan, review of 95 Pounds of Hope, p. 1174; March 1, 2005, Whitney Scott, review of Someone I Loved, p. 1142.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2003, review of 95 Pounds of Hope, p. 1174; February 1, 2005, review of Someone I Loved, p. 136.

Library Journal, April 1, 2005, Prudence Peiffer, review of Someone I Loved, p. 85.

Publishers Weekly, August 25, 2003, review of 95 Pounds of Hope, p. 65; January 26, 2004, review of I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, p. 232; March 14, 2005, review of Someone I Loved, p. 45.

School Library Journal, November, 2003, Barbara Auerbach, review of 95 Pounds of Hope, p. 139.

World Literature Today, July-September, 2003, Lucille F. Becker, review of Je l’aimais, p. 115; September-December, 2004, Patricia M. Gather-cole, review of I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere, p. 115.

ONLINE

Bookreporter.com, http://www.bookreporter.com/ (January 19, 2007), Vin Patel, review of I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere.

French Book News, http://www.FrenchBookNews.com/ (January 19, 2007), review of Hunting and Gathering.

International Movie Database, http://www.imdb.com/ (January 17, 2007), information on author’s film work.*

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