The Belly of Paris

By Emile Zola; Mark Kurlansky (Translator)
(Modern Library, Paperback, 9780812974225, 328pp.)

Publication Date: May 12, 2009

List Price: $16.00*
* Individual store prices may vary.
Shop Local
Enter your zip code below to find indies closest to you.



Part of Emile Zola’s multigenerational Rougon-Macquart saga, The Belly of Paris is the story of Florent Quenu, a wrongly accused man who escapes imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Returning to his native Paris, Florent finds a city he barely recognizes, with its working classes displaced to make way for broad boulevards and bourgeois flats. Living with his brother’s family in the newly rebuilt Les Halles market, Florent is soon caught up in a dangerous maelstrom of food and politics. Amid intrigue among the market’s sellers–the fishmonger, the charcutière, the fruit girl, and the cheese vendor–and the glorious culinary bounty of their labors, we see the dramatic difference between “fat and thin” (the rich and the poor) and how the widening gulf between them strains a city to the breaking point.

Translated and with an Introduction by the celebrated historian and food writer Mark Kurlansky, The Belly of Paris offers fascinating perspectives on the French capital during the Second Empire–and, of course, tantalizing descriptions of its sumptuous repasts.

About the Author
Emile Francois Zola (1840-1902) was a journalist, a novelist, a playwright, and a political activist. He was one of the most influential French novelists of the 19th century and the founder of the literary and theatrical school of naturalism. Zola was a major figure in the political liberalization of France. Emile Zola's works include novels, dramas, poetry, and criticism, among which is his famous Rougon-Macquart (1871-1893), a cycle of twenty novels which depict various aspects of life and society, such as "L'Assommoir" (1877), the seventh novel of the series, about the suffering of the Parisian working-class; "Nana" (1880), the ninth installment, which deals with prostitution; "Pot-Bouille" (1882), the tenth novel, and Zola's most sarcastic satire, which describes daily life in a newly constructed block of flats in late nineteenth-century Paris; and "Germinal" (1885), the thirteenth novel in the series, which depicts the mining industry and is considered by some as one of his masterpieces. "The Ladies Paradise," originally "Au Bonheur des Dames," one of his most relevant works, was the eleventh novel of the cycle. Zola's open letter to French president Felix Faure, under the headline J'Accuse...!, published on the front page of the newspaper L'Aurore on January 13, 1898, charging various French officials with a "terrible miscarriage of justice," reopened the case of the Jewish army officer, Captain Alfred Dreyfus, who had been sentenced to Devil's Island. For that, Zola was himself sentenced to a year in prison but fled to England, returning one year later after Dreyfus' name had been cleared. Dreyfus was eventually reinstated as an officer and publicly decorated with the Legion of Honor.

Mark Kurlansky is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty-eight books and a former foreign correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Chicago Tribune, the Miami Herald, and the Philadelphia Inquirer. He lives in New York City.
Indie Bookstore Finder
EBbooks and EReaders
Find great gifts: Signed books
Link to IndieBound

Update Profile