Launch for Blue Self-Portrait by Noémi Lefebvre


Join us to celebrate the launch of this excellent novel, published for the first time in the U.K by Les Fugitives.

The inner monologue of a woman haunted by German composer Arnold Schoenberg’s portrait, following a complex romantic encounter with an American-German pianist-composer in Berlin. As the irresistible, impossible narrator flies home she unpicks her social failures while the pianist reaches towards a musical self-portrait with all the resonance of Schoenberg’s passionate, chilling blue.

‘L’autoportrait bleu calls to mind fine lacework, all fancy stitching, a delicate succession of interconnected loops. Nothing but beautiful work here. In this devilishly virtuosic text, which also evokes contrapuntal music, Noémi Lefebvre writes like a genuine composer. It’s rare to find a writer successfully able to lend a musical shape to their text. Lefebvre has taken up the challenge in this astonishing, vertiginous account.’ -Le Figaro littéraire

A contemporary novel of angst and high farce, Blue Self-Portrait unfolds among Berlin’s cultural institutions but is more truly located in the mid-air flux between contrary impulses to remember and to ignore. In Blue Self-Portrait Noémi Lefebvre shows how music continues to work on and through us, addressing past trauma while reaching for possible futures. 

The dense, fine-tuned, ever perfectionist writing in this debut novel reinforces its immediacy, grips the reader to the point of obsession. - L’Humanité

Noémi Lefebvre was born in 1964 and lives in Lyon. Further to a PhD on the subject of music education and national identity in Germany and France, she became a political scientist at CERAT de Grenoble II Institute. She is the author of three novels, all of which have garnered intense critical success in France: her debut novel L’Autoportrait bleu (2009), L’état des sentiments à l’âge adulte (2012) and L’enfance politique (2015). She is a regular contributor to the respected French investigative website Médiapart and to the bilingual French-German review La mer gelée.

Sophie Lewis is a literary editor and translator from French and Portuguese into English. While Senior Editor at And Other Stories she edited authors both writing in English and in translation, including Deborah Levy, Lina Wolff and Juan Pablo Villalobos. She has translated Stendhal, Jules Verne, Marcel Aymé, Violette Leduc, Emmanuelle Pagano and João Gilberto Noll, among others. In 2017 she was commended for the Scott Moncrieff Prize for her translation of Héloïse Is Bald by Émilie de Turkheim.

Tickets cost £5 and include a glass of wine and £4 off purchases made on the night and can be purchased here.