Daniel Picouly, below the volcano in Martinique (Interview)


In “Littérature sans frontières,” a program on French radio station RFI, Catherine Fruchon-Toussaint interviews French writer Daniel Picouly about his 2018 novel Quatre-vingt-dix seconds [Ninety Seconds], based on the eruption of Mount Pelée in 1902. Listen to the podcast at RFI.

Daniel Picouly became well-known in 1996 with Le Champ de personne (ELLE Reader’s Grand Prize), then with L’Enfant léopard (Prix Renaudot, 1999). Since then, he has published La Nuit de Lampedusa, La Faute d’orthographe est ma langue maternelle, and Le cri muet de l’iguane, among others, as well as numerous children’s books. He hosts a literary program on France Ô. (www.picouly.com) His new novel entitled Quatre-vingt-dix seconds, published by Éditions Albin Michel, recalls the terrible volcanic eruption of Mount Pelée which, on May 8, 1902, destroyed the city of Saint- Pierre killing nearly 30,000 people. (Replay from December 7, 2018).

“The devil drank rum. We defiled the churches, dug up the corpses. St. Pierre must repent. As I spit mud and fire, ravaging fields, animals and men, they clap their hands like children at Carnival. They forget to become wise animals again, to trust their instincts. Run away! I am Mount Pelée. In three hours, I will raze the city. Thirty thousand dead in ninety seconds.” (Excerpt)

[Excerpts translated by Ivette Romero. For original text, audio and podcast (in French), visit http://www.rfi.fr/fr/emission/20190809-picouly-ecrivain-francais-martinique-volcan-montagne-pelee.]

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