Rolin, Olivier 1947–

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Rolin, Olivier 1947–


Born May 17, 1947, in France. Education: Studied at École Normale Supérieure.




Novelist and essayist; Editions du Seuil, Paris, France, editor. Member of Nouvelle Résistance Populaire, a revolutionary group, during 1960s and 1970s. Visiting professor at Florida State University, 2004.


Prix Femina, 1994, for Port-Soudan; Goncourt Prize shortlist, 2003, for Tigre en Papier.


Phénomène Futur, Seuil (Paris, France), 1983.

Bar Des Flots Noirs (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 1987.

En Russie, Quai Voltaire (Paris, France), 1987.

Sept Villes, Rivages (Paris, France), 1988.

L'invention du Monde (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 1993.

Port-Soudan (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 1994.

Mon Galurin Gris: Petites Géographies, Seuil (Paris, France), 1997.

Méroé (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 1998.

Paysages Originels: Récits, Seuil (Paris, France), 1999.

La Langue: Suivi De, Mal Placeé, Déplacé, Verdier (Lagrasse, France), 2000.

Tigre en Papier (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 2002, translation by William Cloonan published as Paper Tiger, University of Nebraska Press (Lincoln, NE), 2007.

Suite à L'hôtel Crystal (novel), Seuil (Paris, France), 2004.

Rooms: Récits, Seuil (Paris, France), 2006.


One of France's leading contemporary novelists and essayists, Olivier Rolin is the author of Paper Tiger, a work that explores the memories of an aging French radical. In the novel, Rolin, who was a member of the violent Maoist group Nouvelle Résistance Populaire during the 1960s and 1970s, introduces Martin, a former revolutionary who spends an evening with Marie, the daughter of a long-dead companion who served in ‘the Cause.’ As they drive around Paris, Martin recalls his group's experiences, which included vandalizing homes, kidnappings, and selling bomb components, and ponders his friend's mysterious, unexplained death.

Paper Tiger received decidedly mixed reviews. Library Journal contributor Lawrence Olszewski remarked that ‘the storytelling comes across as repetitive, impersonal, and long-winded,’ and a critic in Publishers Weekly observed that the use of the second person and the emphasis on French history and politics ‘will make Rolin's latest rough sledding for American readers not already into dense French lit.’ Jeremy M. Davies, writing in the Review of Contemporary Fiction, offered a more positive assessment, however, calling the novel ‘a remarkable, breathless flood of language: an attempt to outdistance the futility of memory—particularly that of an epoch and ideology that now seem, regretfully, to exist outside of time,’ and New York Times Book Review critic Alison McCulloch noted that ‘the impression left behind … is that history will make a paper tiger of every high hope and feared foe alike.’ In the words of an Economist reviewer, ‘Rolin confronts and exorcises past demons in a work that is, in effect, an extended and elegiac prose-poem."



Economist, November 16, 2002, ‘Pop Goes the Author,’ review of Tigre en Papier.

Library Journal, March 15, 2007, Lawrence Olszewski, review of Paper Tiger, p. 62.

New York Times Book Review, April 15, 2007, Alison McCulloch, ‘Fiction Chronicle,’ review of Paper Tiger, p. 14.

Publishers Weekly, January 22, 2007, review of Paper Tiger, p. 160.

Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 2007, Jeremy M. Davies, review of Paper Tiger, p. 136.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1994, Lee Fahnestock, review of L'invention du Monde, p. 779.