For the first time in English, literary icon Marguerite Duras's foundational masterpiece about a young woman's existential breakdown in the deceptively peaceful French countryside.
The Easy Life is the story of Francine Veyrenattes, a twenty-five-year-old woman who already feels like life is passing her by. After witnessing a series of tragedies on her family farm, she alternates between intense grief and staggering boredom as she discovers a curious detachment in herself, an inability to navigate the world as others do. Hoping to be cleansed of whatever ails her, she travels to the coast to visit the sea. But there she finds herself unraveling, uncertain of what is inside her. Lying in the sun with her toes in the sand by day while psychologically dissolving in her hotel room by night, she soon reaches the peak of her inner crisis and must grapple with whether and how she can take hold of her own existence.
An extraordinary examination of a young woman's estrangement from the world that only Marguerite Duras could have written, The Easy Life is a work of unsettling beauty and insight, and a bold, spellbinding journey into the depths of the human heart.
About the Author
Marguerite Duras was one of France's most important and prolific writers. Born Marguerite Donnadieu in 1914 in what was then French Indochina, she went to Paris in 1931 to study at the Sorbonne. During WWII she was active in the Resistance, and in 1945 she joined the Communist Party. Duras wrote many novels, plays, films, and essays during her lifetime. She is perhaps best known for her internationally bestselling novel The Lover, which won the Prix Goncourt in 1984. She died in Paris in 1996.
Emma Ramadan is a literary translator of poetry and prose from France, North Africa, and the Middle East. She is the recipient of a Fulbright, an NEA Translation Fellowship, the 2018 Albertine Prize, and the 2021 PEN Translation Prize.
Olivia Baes is a Franco-American multidisciplinary artist who grew up between France, Catalonia, and the United States. She holds a Master of the Arts in Cultural Translation from the American University of Paris.
Kate Zambreno is the author most recently of Drifts (Riverhead) and To Write As If Already Dead (Columbia UP). The Light Room, a meditation on art and care, is forthcoming from Riverhead in July 2023. She teaches writing at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College.
“One of the 20th century's greatest thinkers and prose stylists.” —New York Times Book Review
“A brilliant interior novel of a young woman's existential breakdown . . . What may seem like an idyllic French countryside novel is, in the hands of Duras and her masterful translators, a stunning and intense meditation on family, the self, and ultimately the mind.” —Book Riot
“[Duras] asks what it means to be a person, a woman, and a body in a world that seeks to destroy and devalue those things, as well as what it means to be a person with a story as opposed to having a simpler life without tragedy . . . it offers glimpses of the heights to come.” —Publishers Weekly
“A compelling portrait of a mind in turmoil and of the relentless, unforgiving demands of a true moral reckoning.” —Shelf Awareness
“A mind alive to the possibilities of human experience and of the word, and a writer with the courage to publish truly her experience as a woman.” —Newsday
“While reading Marguerite Duras, it can be hard to tell if you are pressing your hands to her chest or if she is pressing her hands to yours. Has she mined your deepest feelings or have you caught her heart's fever?” —Paris Review
“Marguerite Duras writes brilliantly and strongly . . . her language and writing shine like crystal.” —The New Yorker
“In this powerful, immaculately translated novel, we watch the young Marguerite Duras move from the fierce, iron rigors of narrative to her more characteristic style of relentless introspection. This book, which she wrote in her twenties, already reveals all her powers.” —Edmund White, author of A BOY'S LIFE and A SAINT FROM TEXAS
“Reading The Easy Life, there is a sense of riding on the edge of a dark wave, a brilliant intensity only Marguerite Duras could bring into existence. A novel of the disquieting contours of family, and of the mind, and of life unceasing even in the midst of death. How exhilarating to be able to encounter Francine Veyrenattes, a character I won't forget, and for the first time in English, this early work by one of the most important, visionary writers of all time.” —Amina Cain, author of INDELICACY