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Interview with Christophe Ono-Dit-Biot

Christophe Ono-dit-Biot is a prestigious writer and media worker. He is now the subeditor of the cultural section in the French news journal Le Point. His novels have brought him several awards. For example, Plonger, published in 2013, won Grand prix de littérature de l’Académie française and Prix Renaudot.


In December, 2014, this book was introduced to China. It was translated by YU Zhongxian, a famous Chinese writer and translator, and published by People’s Literature Publishing House. The translation edition also won the 7th Luxun Literature Prize for the best literature translation.


This book tells a beautiful love story between a Spanish woman named Paz and a French man named Cesar. Paz died in an accident in another country, so Cesar went to claim her body and sought for the truth of her death.  The whole story was told from the perspective of Cesar through his talk with their child about what kind of person his mother Paz is.


This story discusses many topics like what is a woman? What is love? What is the beauty of nature and arts? What is heritage?


Christophe Ono-dit-Biot thinks that the topic about heritage is very important. He always considers about how the ancient European culture was inherited to today? And what should we do to pass on this love to nature and arts to the next generation.


Christophe Ono-dit-Biot devotes all his love to depicting the senses. It describes not only the body consciousnesses but also natural scenes.


“When I want to depict the Mediterranean, I may write about the lemon there, the waves there, the boundless sea and pleasant sunlight there. When readers read my words, I hope that they can actually feel the warmth of the sunlight and smell the fragrant of the lemons, just like the sour and sweetness was on the tip of their tongues. For example, as soon as I got off the plane in China, I found the flavor of fresh air here was different from that in France. And the writing is to bring these feelings to readers.”


“Entering into a novel is like walking into the universe. The writer should build up a world just like what VR does.”


“Although writing is something imaginary which I can make up by myself, I still have a cheating feeling. Flaubert, a French writer, used to say that if I should write about woman’s shoes, I must take that in my hand.” “Of course, I tend not to consider myself as Flaubert,” he condescendingly said, “but in Plonger, all the scenes are what I have witnessed on my own and all the feelings are what I have experienced by myself…”


Christophe Ono-dit-Biot named the book “Plonger”, because he hopes readers can follow this couple plunging into where they had been to, what they had experienced, which fragrance they had smelt, plunging into their favorite literature, arts, history, mythology, and plunging deeper into the culture.


Looking back upon European culture and ancient culture is another repeated topic in Christophe’s works, which make people define him as a man with “nostalgie”.


“Nostalgie is from Greek, and its original meaning is “the pain of backing home”. When I reflect the history, there is no pain in my heart but happiness and comfort. Those who had died never leave us, and they still live in our heart.”


The latest book of Chiristophe is Nuit Espagnole. The story is about his experience of spending a whole night in Picasso Musem with a famous Algerian artist Adel Abdessemed. Only two people in the museum, and “I promise every exhibits in the museum is alive and full of vigor.”


A lot of Chinese readers who have read Plonger think that this book can be compared with The Moon and Six Pence written by Willian Somerset Maugham, because both protagonists seek for the inspirations from arts throughout their whole life. Readers’ love for the book makes Christophe pleasantly surprised. He said, “in France, nobody made such analogy, but in my mind, everybody is seeking for something throughout his whole life. In this complicated era, a protagonist can not only lead us to look for a better future but also guide us during this long journey.”


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