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Irène Némirovsky (1903–1942)

Author of Suite Française

89+ Works 15,593 Members 620 Reviews 38 Favorited

About the Author

Disambiguation Notice:

(yid) VIAF:66484425

(fre) BNF:12039492

(ita) ICCU:CFIV094404

Image credit: Irène Némirovsky vers 1917 à l'âge où elle commence à écrire

Works by Irène Némirovsky

Suite Française (2004) 9,958 copies
Fire in the Blood (2007) 1,232 copies
The Ball (1930) 616 copies
David Golder (1929) 490 copies
All Our Worldly Goods (1947) 486 copies
The Wine of Solitude (1935) 316 copies
The Dogs and the Wolves (1940) 314 copies
Jezebel (1936) 270 copies
Dimanche and Other Stories (2000) 231 copies
The Courilof Affair (1933) 191 copies
The Fires of Autumn (1957) 181 copies
Master of Souls (1939) — Author — 175 copies
The Misunderstanding (1926) 164 copies
Snow in Autumn (1931) — Author — 119 copies
The Ball / Snow in Autumn (1992) 97 copies
Due (1939) 76 copies
La preda (1938) 53 copies
Un enfant prodige (1992) 43 copies
A Life of Chekhov (1946) 29 copies
La moglie di don Giovanni (1938) 28 copies
Le pion sur l'echiquier (1934) 20 copies
La nemica (2013) — Author — 19 copies
I capolavori (2013) 14 copies
Notte in treno (2011) 7 copies
La commedia borghese (2013) 5 copies
Rausch (2011) 4 copies
[unidentified works] (2001) 4 copies
Meistererzählungen (2013) 3 copies
La sinfonia di Parigi (2021) 3 copies
Natale a Parigi (2021) 2 copies
Tempesta in giugno (Italian Edition) (2022) — Author — 2 copies
Tempesta in giugno (2022) 2 copies
Un amore in pericolo (2013) 2 copies
Un niño prodigio (2023) 2 copies
Los fuegos de otoño (2022) 2 copies
EL MALENTES (2024) 2 copies
Dos (2023) 2 copies
Sırdaş 1 copy
Yanılgı 1 copy
Dos 1 copy
Yanılgı 1 copy
Suite francese (2015) 1 copy
La confidenza (2013) 1 copy
Dois 1 copy
El baile 1 copy
Yanılgı 1 copy
Film parlé (2019) 1 copy
Taken 1 copy
Magie: Erzählung (2014) 1 copy
El baile 1 copy
Lettres d'une vie (2021) 1 copy

Associated Works

Count D'Orgel's Ball (1924) — Contributor — 415 copies
The Persephone Book of Short Stories (2012) — Contributor — 119 copies
Found in Translation (2018) — Contributor, some editions — 37 copies
The Second Persephone Book of Short Stories (2019) — Contributor — 27 copies
Suite Française [2014 film] (2014) — Original book — 22 copies
Racconti di cinema (2014) — Contributor — 3 copies
David Golder [1931 film] (2017) — Original novel — 2 copies


1001 (43) 1001 books (46) 1940s (42) 2007 (61) 2008 (45) 20th century (202) book club (73) ebook (47) family (44) fiction (1,683) France (1,010) French (342) French fiction (142) French literature (388) German occupation (90) historical (72) historical fiction (347) history (90) Holocaust (243) Irene Nemirovsky (55) Jewish (49) literary fiction (53) literature (164) love (44) narrativa (68) novel (320) Novela (78) occupation (67) own (66) Paris (177) read (113) read in 2007 (48) Roman (63) Russia (66) short stories (114) to-read (545) translation (93) unread (83) war (163) WWII (1,028)

Common Knowledge

Canonical name
Némirovsky, Irène
Legal name
Némirovsky, Irène Lvovna
Other names
Epstein-Némirovsky, Irène
Nemirovskaya, Irina Lvovna
Date of death
Burial location
Auschwitz, Poland
Russian Empire (birth)
Country (for map)
Kiev, Ukraine (formerly Russian Empire)
Place of death
Auschwitz, Poland
Auschwitz Concentration Camp, Poland
Cause of death
Places of residence
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Paris, France
Burgundy, France
Issy-l'Evêque, France
Auschwitz, Poland
Epstein, Denise (daughter)
Gille, Élisabeth (daughter)
Short biography
Irène Némirovsky was brought up in St. Petersburg, Russia by a French governess, becoming completely fluent in the French language. She also learned to speak Yiddish, Finnish, Polish, and English. Following the Russian Revolution, the family lived for a year in Finland and then moved to Paris. Irène attended the Sorbonne and started writing fiction at about age 18. In 1926, she married Michel Epstein, a banker, with whom she had two daughters: Denise, born in 1929; and Élisabeth, born in 1937. In 1929, Irène published David Golder, her first novel, which was an immediate success and was adapted into a film in 1930. That same year, her novel Le Bal was published and became a play and a movie.
Today Irène Némirovsky is best-remembered for her unfinished book entitled Suite Française, two novellas written during the start of the German Occupation of France in World War II as it was happening. Despite having converted to Catholicism, Irène Némirovsky was arrested and deported by the Nazis to Auschwitz, where she died of typhus at 39 years of age. Her husband died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz. Their daughter Denise was able to keep the notebook containing the manuscript for Suite Française, but did not read it for 50 years, thinking it was her mother's private journal. However, in the late 1990s, she made arrangements to donate her mother's papers to a French archive and decided to examine the notebook. Upon discovering what it contained, she had it published in France, where it became a bestseller in 2004.



MAY Group Read: Suite Française (General Discussion) in The 11 in 11 Category Challenge (May 2011)


Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky is a brilliant but sadly unfinished tale set in occupied France in the first years of the Second World War. Nemirovsky, who was Jewish, was killed in a concentration camp having only written two of her five planned novels.

The first book follows several Parisians on the days after France falls to the Germans, and the general exodus from the capital city ahead of the arrival of German troops. The second book is set in an occupied agricultural village where a regiment of German soldiers is billeted, and tells of the relationship between the conquerers and the villagers. It is a beautifully detailed story, full of description, so vivid that I could, with ease, picture characters and homes and fields throughout, which only increased the attraction of the book.

Although the novel is classified as historical fiction, I think that is important to remember that it was written during the Second World War and is probably very close to fact, given that Nemirovsky lived in Paris when France was invaded by Germany. There is undoubtedly verisimillitude in the intricate tales, and first-hand knowledge of the availabilty of food and the conditions of the people taking part in the general panicked rush from Paris to the countryside. Although it is lively fiction, it is also partly historical document, and a lot can be learned from it.

I really loved this book. It was a slow read, as the novel unfolds gradually, and because I had such a busy week without much time to read, I kept having to go back a few pages to figure out what was going on when I'd put the book down two days ago. I became very attached to some of the characters, particularly the Michauds and Lucile. This is a book that I will read again, and which I will recommend to others.
… (more)
ahef1963 | 344 other reviews | May 4, 2024 |
Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

-Print: COPYRIGHT: April 11, 2006; PUBLISHER: Knopf; Translation edition; ISBN 978-1400044733; PAGES 416; Unabridged (Amazon Hardcover info)
-Digital: COPYRIGHT: April 11, 2006; PUBLISHER: Vintage; Translation edition; ISBN 1400044731; PAGES: 448; Unabridged (info from: Amazon: Kindle edition)
*Audio: COPYRIGHT: July 16, 2013; PUBLISHER: Random House Audio; DURATION: 13 hrs., 13 mins.; Unabridged (INFO FROM Amazon/Audible)
Feature Film or tv: Not that I’m aware of.


-How I picked it: I can’t recall where I saw this that prompted me to get it with one of our credits from Audible. I tend to like books about France and WWII. 😊
-What’s it about? There are two stories. The first begins with a description of France and its citizens, before then zeroing in on a few of them who are reluctantly coming to terms with the fact that they must flee, as the Germans are invading. In fact, at this point, are right on their heels. It tells of the desperation of flight-of suddenly having nothing, and no means to remedy that; of classes of people crashing together in distrust and prejudice. The second story seems to be a continuation, after some passage of time, but only includes one family from the previous story, which had been much more incidental in that previous story. This family’s village is occupied and the family is forced to accommodate a German soldier resident, as have many other villagers—most of the citizens are farmers, but our primary family is a landowner (although with all of the unfamiliar French names, I got a little confused as to who was who at times.).
-Liked: I thought the stories were well plotted, and liked a couple of characters. I don’t think I was expected to like most of them.
-Disliked: I don’t care for tragic stories where nearly everyone is at one another’s throats.
-Overall: I understand that the author was actually Jewish. Irène Némirovsky was apparently a Ukrainian-born Russian living in France when she began working on these novellas, which apparently were parts 1 and 2, of what was intended to be 5 parts. She was, however captured by the Nazis with her husband (daughters, I believe were living elsewhere and thus, with the manuscript, survived) to Auschwitz, where she died. I read a review that complained that the author had not mentioned Jews in the stories. Given her situation, I personally wouldn’t fault her for that, and am less certain than the complainer that she’d excluded Jews from the tale. Perhaps they were there and just not identified as such.
So, I can imagine that these stories were born from her experience, and I can’t fault her for having so few honorable or truly good characters. One would like to think that people would come together in such dire times, to help one-another, but it’s probably more “normal” to fear for one’s own chances at survival, and be stingy, or greedy, on that premise. Still, personally, I don’t read books to find “normal” stingy greedy examples of the human race, so I just can’t say I liked these stories. I suspect the author may have intended to bring us around to happier conditions, and somehow rectify the dearth of likable characters, but as it stands, there’s just not enough of a sense of honor here for me.

AUTHOR: (From Wikipedia) “Irène Némirovsky (French: [iʁɛn nemiʁɔfski]; 11 February 1903 – 17 August 1942) was a novelist of Ukrainian Jewish origin who was born in Kiev, then in the Russian Empire. She lived more than half her life in France, and wrote in French, but was denied French citizenship. Arrested as a Jew under the racial laws – which did not take into account her conversion to Roman Catholicism[1][2] – she was murdered in Auschwitz at the age of 39. Némirovsky is best known for the posthumously published Suite française.."
(From Goodreads/Penguin Random House) “Irène Némirovsky was born in Kiev in 1903 into a successful banking family. Trapped in Moscow by the Russian Revolution, she and her family fled first to a village in Finland, and eventually to France, where she attended the Sorbonne.
Irène Némirovsky achieved early success as a writer: her first novel, David Golder, published when she was twenty-six, was a sensation. By 1937 she had published nine further books and David Golder had been made into a film; she and her husband Michel Epstein, a bank executive, moved in fashionable social circles.
When the Germans occupied France in 1940, she moved with her husband and two small daughters, aged 5 and 13, from Paris to the comparative safety of Issy-L’Evêque. It was there that she secretly began writing Suite Française. Though her family had converted to Catholicism, she was arrested on 13 July, 1942, and interned in the concentration camp at Pithiviers. She died in Auschwitz in August of that year. --Penguin Random House”

TRANSLATOR: (From the Author’s Guild) “Sandra Smith was born and raised in New York City. As an undergraduate, she spent one year studying at the Sorbonne and fell in love with Paris. Immediately after finishing her B.A., she was accepted to do a Master’s Degree at New York University, in conjunction with the Sorbonne, and so lived in Paris for another year. She then moved to England, where she began teaching 20th Century French Literature, Modern French Drama and Translation at Cambridge University. She currently lives in the New York area and teaches at NYU and has given Master Classes at Sarah Lawrence and Columbia.
Sandra Smith is the translator of all 12 novels by Irène Némirovsky available in English, as well as a new translation of Camus’ "L’Etranger" ("The Outsider", Penguin UK, 2012). Her translation of Némirovsky’s "Suite Française" (2006) won the French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize for fiction, as well as the PEN Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize, the first time that the same book has ever won both prizes in the same year. Suite Française also won the Independent British Booksellers Book of the Year prize and was voted Book of the Year by The Times of London.
Smith’s translation of "The Necklace and Other Stories" by Guy de Maupassant was inspired by her belief that Maupassant was a master of the short story genre who should be discovered by English speaking readers.
Her translation of Marceline Loridan-Ivens' "But You Did Not Come Back: A Memoir" won the National Jewish Book Award in 2017.
Six of Smith's translations have been adapted as radio plays on the BBC.
Her translation of a biography of Jacques Schiffrin was published by Columbia University Press early in 2019.
Her most recent translation are "The Prodigal Child" by Irène Némirovsky (Kales Press 2021), "Inseparable" by Simone de Beauvoir (Ecco Press/Harper Collins 2021), Finalist for the French-American Foundation and Florence Gould Foundation Translation Prize for fiction, "In the Shadows of Paris" by Anne Sinclair (Kales Press 2021), Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, and "Master of Souls" by Irène Némirovsky (Kales Press 2021).
She is currently working on the translation of Correspondence between Albert Camus and Maria Casarès (Knopf).”

NARRATOR: (from Wikipedia) “Daniel Oreskes is an American actor known for his roles in Law & Order, and Law & Order: Organized Crime. Oreskes has also appeared in numerous Broadway productions and narrates audiobooks.[1][2][3]
Oreskes graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[4] He is the brother of academic Naomi Oreskes and former journalist Michael Oreskes.[5][6]”

NARRATOR: (from Wikipedia) “Barbara Rosenblat is a British actress. She is best known as a prolific narrator of audiobooks, for which AudioFile named her a Golden Voice.[1] She has also appeared on screen such as in the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black as the character Miss Rosa.”

Historical Fiction

SUBJECTS: (Not comprehensive)
France; World War II; War; Occupation: Refugees



“I dedicate this novel to the memory of my mother and father, to my sister, Elisabeth Gille, to my children and grandchildren, and to everyone who has felt and continues to feel the tragedy of intolerance.” __Denise Epstein [daughter of Irene]

EXCERPT: (From Chapter One)
“Hot, thought the Parisians. The warm air of spring. It was night, they were at war and there was an air raid. But dawn was near and the war far away. The firs to hear the hum of the siren were those who couldn’t sleep—the ill and bedridden, mothers with sons at the front, women crying for men they loved. To them it began as a long breath, like air being forced into a deep sigh. It wasn’t long before its wailing filled the sky. It came from afar, from beyond the horizon, slowly, almost lazily. Those still asleep dreamed of waves breaking over pebbles, a March storm whipping the woods, a herd of cows trampling the ground with their hooves, until finally sleep was shaken off and they struggled to open their eyes, murmuring, “Is it an air raid?”

3 stars

8-30-2023 to 9-11-2023
… (more)
TraSea | 344 other reviews | May 2, 2024 |
filbo_2024 | Apr 23, 2024 |
Emily St John Mandel likes it. I didn't finish it because I hated all the characters too much.
RaynaPolsky | 344 other reviews | Apr 23, 2024 |



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