Our newest book group, WICE's "Café Littéraire: Savoring French Literature in English" offers a unique and enriching literary experience, focusing exclusively on celebrated French novels that have been honored with either the Prix Femina or the Prix Goncourt.

These prestigious awards represent the pinnacle of French literary achievement, and our book group provides the opportunity to explore these masterpieces in their English translations. The selected works offer a window into the rich tapestry of French culture, history, and literary tradition, allowing members to immerse themselves in the eloquence and artistry of France's most esteemed authors.

The group gathers on the 4th Friday of each month between 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm. Join us as we journey through the pages of these award-winning novels, connecting with the stories and voices that have shaped and defined the French literary landscape.

A ist of sample candidate novels is listed below. This list is by no means exhaustive or exclusive, and any other novel that meets the criteria is open for inclusion.

Note: Our book reading groups are among the most popular activities in WICE, and available seats get taken quickly. We will reserve two seats each month in this group for new WICE members. If no new members are not signed up four days before the meeting, we will open up those seats to all members.

If you would like more information or if you have questions, please email:


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Sample Candidate Novels

Title (French) Title (English) Author Year Prize
L'Anomalie The Anomaly Hervé le Tellier 2020 Goncourt
Tous les hommes n'habitent pas le monde de la même façon All Men Do Not Live in the World in the Same Way Jean-Paul Dubois 2019 Goncourt
Leurs enfants après eux And Their Children After Them Nicolas Mathieu 2018 Goncourt
Nos richesses Our Riches Kaouther Adimi 2017 Prix Femina
L'Ordre du Jour The Order of the Day Éric Vuillard 2017 Goncourt
L'Art de perdre The Art of Losing Alice Ziniter 2017 Prix Femina
Chanson Douce Lullaby Leila Slimani 2016 Goncourt
Le Grand Marin The Great Swimmer Catherine Poulin 2015 Prix Femina
Parfum d'Ink Scent of Ink Patrick Suskind 2010 Goncourt
Les Hautes Lumières The High Lights Marie Nimier 1987 Prix Femina
L'Evenement Happening
Annie Ernaux 1969 Prix Femina
L'Oeuvre au noir The Abyss Marguirite Yourcenar 1968 Prix Femina
Mèmoires d'une jeune fille rangée Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter Simone de Beauvoir 1958 Prix Femina


    • 27 Oct 2023
    • 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
    • To Be Determined
    • 7

    Simone de Beauvoir's autobiographical account of her early life in a conservative Parisian family.

    Published in 1958, the memoir serves as both an intimate account of her early life and a critical examination of the societal norms and gender roles that shaped her. As she navigates family expectations and intellectual pursuits, de Beauvoir lays the groundwork for her future seminal works, notably "The Second Sex."

    The book is not just a personal narrative but also an exploration of the formative influences that spark a young woman's journey toward intellectual freedom and feminism.

    “It is a book that will leave no one indifferent, and no one affected in quite the same way.” New York Times

    “This excellent autobiography . . . of the bending of the twig is, in certain respects, more sympathetic than the later leafings of the tree; but the line between the child Simone and the woman of The Second Sex and The Mandarins is direct and clear.” Chicago Sunday Times

    Note: Both English and original language versions can be found online or by order in English bookstores including The Red Wheelbarrow and Shakespeare & Co. French (translated) version can be found online or in certain libraries across Paris.

    About the Facilitator

    Victoria Wilhelm, who will be leading the discussion, is a graduate student in French Literature and Culture at the Sorbonne, in Paris.

    • 24 Nov 2023
    • 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
    • To Be Determined
    • 9

    Published in 2020, L'Anomalie won the prestigious Prix Goncourt in the same year. An  Oulipian work, the novel explores a wide range of themes including identity, reality, and the human condition, all framed within a speculative fiction scenario that involves a commercial airplane and its passengers experiencing an inexplicable anomaly.

    The story poses existential questions through its complex narrative structure and multiple viewpoints, which allows it to delve into the psyches of various characters. The novel has been praised for its ambitious storytelling, which combines elements of mystery, science fiction, and philosophical inquiry.

    "Swerves between various genres—science fiction, a thriller, love stories, an introspective work—without being confined by any of them." —New York Times

    Registration will open on 27 October 2023.

    About the Organizer

    Victoria Wilhelm, who will be leading the discussion, is a graduate student in French Literature and Culture at the Sorbonne, in Paris.

    • 15 Dec 2023
    • 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
    • To Be Determined
    • 8

    Set in 1963, four years before the legalization of oral contraception in France and twelve years before the Veil Act (which legalized abortion), the autobiographical narrative describes the troubles a young student faces when seeking out an abortion.

    The story begins her recounting how waiting for the results of an HIV test reminded her of the similar stressful experience of discovering she was pregnant.

    She speaks about the stress of finding out, and the consequences, such as hiding it from her parents and public, searching for a doctor who would perform the still-illegal procedure, revealing the pregnancy to some close friends for help, and the emotional toll of the abortion itself.

    Entries from her journal frame the events from the first three months of her pregnancy to the abortion and recovery.

    Claire Devarrieux, of Libération, wrote that Ernaux's story "transcends individuality."

    Emily Eakin, of The New York Times Book Review wrote, "As subject matter goes, little could be more inherently provocative. Ernaux's take is all the more so for being unabashedly philosophical rather than moral."

    Registration opens on 24 November 2023.

    About the Organizer

    Victoria Wilhelm, who will be leading the discussion, is a graduate student in French Literature and Culture at the Sorbonne, in Paris.

    • 26 Jan 2024
    • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
    • To Be Announced
    • 9

    Naïma is a young French woman working in a Parisian art gallery. She represents the third generation of her family, whose roots trace back to Algeria.

    Throughout the novel, Naïma grapples with questions of identity, belonging, and the complex history of her family. Her grandfather, who immigrated to France from Algeria, carries with him the memories and traumas of the Algerian War of Independence, a subject that has always been taboo in their family.

    Driven by a need to understand her family's past and her place within it, Naïma embarks on a journey to explore her Algerian heritage. This takes her to Algeria, where she learns about her family's history and the broader context of Franco-Algerian relations.

    Deriving its title from the first line of Elizabeth Bishop's seminal poem "One Art," Alice Zeniter's "The Art of Losing" also won the Dublin Literary Award,  the 2017 Prix Goncourt des Lycéens, the Porte Dorée Literary Prize, and Le Monde's Literary Prize.

    • 23 Feb 2024
    • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
    • To Be Announced
    • 8

    In this 2018 Goncourt Prize winner, author Éric Vuillard follows the actions of European politicians and business leaders in the run up to World War II.

    The novel tells the fascinating account of the failed diplomacy, broken relationships, and the catastrophic momentum that led to the war.

    The leaders of German industry—believing they will prosper under the Nazi regime—agree to lend their support to Adolph Hitler. Of course, things don't go entirely as planned, and as on thing leads to another, the world slides inexorably towards the abyss.

    Not quite fiction, but not quite fact, the French describe it as a récit, while the English newspaper The Guardian calls it "an historical essay with literary flourishes."

    The Guardian said: "However you decide to categorise it, this is a thoroughly gripping and mesmerising work of black comedy and political disaster. It seems designed single-mindedly to remind us that, as it says, “Great catastrophes often creep up on us in tiny steps.”

    • 22 Mar 2024
    • 3:00 PM - 4:30 PM
    • To Be Announced
    • 9

    "L'Œuvre au Noir" is a historical novel chronicling the life of the fictional character Zeno, a 16th-century physician, alchemist, and philosopher.

    Set during the Renaissance, a time of great scientific and philosophical upheaval, the novel delves into Zeno's quest for knowledge in various fields such as medicine, alchemy, and humanism. His intellectual pursuits, often in conflict with religious orthodoxy, lead him to face persecution and personal struggles.

    Yourcenar's novel explores themes of intellectual freedom, existential quest, and the tension between science and religion. Her prose weaves historical accuracy with profound character insight, capturing the zeitgeist of the Renaissance.

    "L'Œuvre au Noir" is a complex and richly layered novel that portrays the life of an intellectual pioneer in an era teetering between medieval superstition and the dawn of modernity.

    Registration opens on Friday, 24 November.