There is an interesting story on NPR called The Making of a Posthumous Bestseller. It focuses on Stieg Larsson's mystery The Girl with the Dragon Tatoo, which has created a lot of buzz, but too late for the author to enjoy his success. While NPR is most interested in how the publisher faces the challenges of promoting the work of an author who is no longer alive, the story puts me in mind of Irène Némirovsky and Suite Française.
We learned this week at a Salon discussion with Olivier Philipponat, one of Irène's biographers, that she planned on working on Suite Française from 1941 through 1945. For those who have read her posthumous work, I am sure that like me you had many questions about how it would continue and end (even if you have read the notes and outlines in her manuscript which is on display at the museum both physically and digitally).
One question that came up at the Salon talk was why there were no Jews in Suite Française. While I had assumed that it was because Irène and her family were the only Jews in Issy, where she was writing, and that she wrote in great detail about what she saw, Olivier Philipponat suggested that it would be too dangerous to write about Jews in that time and that no one would publish a work about Jews in war-time France.
We can only wonder about what she would have written and how she would have revised had she lived through 1945 and beyond. Luckily, we will have more insight into her writing and her life in coming years. Philipponat's book will be translated into English, as will many of Irène's earlier works. In the meantime, be sure to visit the exhibit at the Museum of Jewish Heritage and listen to her daughter, Denise Epstein, via podcast on our site.