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Book Club Podcast: Charlotte by David Foenkinos

04 January 2024

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Charlotte Salomon’s self-portrait, 1940. Gouache on cardboard

Charlotte Salomon’s self-portrait, 1940. Gouache on cardboard

Charlotte by David Foenkinos is the choice for this month’s Church Times Book Club. On the podcast this week, Emily Rhodes, who has written this month’s essay about the book, is in conversation with Sarah Meyrick.

Charlotte, translated into English by Sam Taylor, retells the tragic story of a Jewish artist, Charlotte Salomon, who died with her unborn baby in Auschwitz at the age of 26.

Fleeing Berlin to escape Hitler’s reign of terror, the young artist found refuge in the south of France before her final transportation to the concentration camp. It was during this time that she created most of her work, a series of autobiographical paintings imbued with a sense of urgency and foreboding.

The book is written in verse form. Each sentence is separated by a single line of spacing. Its lyrical style, while not sentimental in tone, adds poignancy and pace to the short story.

David Foenkinos is an award-winning French novelist and screenwriter. He is the author of 18 novels, all of which have been translated into more than 40 languages. Charlotte won both the Prix Renaudot and the Prix Goncourt des Lycéens in 2014. 

Charlotte by David Foenkinos is published by Canongate at £9.99 (Church Times Bookshop £8.99); 978-1-78211-796-4.

Emily Rhodes is a writer and journalist, whose features and reviews have appeared in publications including the Financial TimesThe SpectatorThe Guardian, and the TLS. Find out about Emily’s Walking Book Club at emilyswalkingbookclub.substack.com.

The Church Times Book Club is run in association with the Festival of Faith and Literature

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