The First Man by Albert Camus
Albert Camus (1913 – 1960) was a French author, journalist, and philosopher who grew up in French Algeria. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism. Camus was born and grew up in French Algeria. In 1957 Camus was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.
"The unfinished manuscript of The First Man was discovered in the wreckage of the car accident in which Camus died in 1960, yet it was not published for over 30 years. The 'first man' of the title is Jacques Cormery, whose poverty stricken childhood is made bearable by his love for his silent and illiterate mother, and by the teacher who transforms his outlooks on the world. The most autobiographical of Camus' novels, The First Man gives insight into his life and the powerful themes underlying his work."
Paris by Julian Green
Julien Green (1900 – 1998), was born to American parents in Paris. He authored several novels, a four-volume autobiography and a 19(!) volume diary. He wrote primarily in French and was the first non-French national to be elected to the Académie française.
"Paris is an extraordinary lyrical love letter to the city, taking the reader on an imaginative journey around its secret stairways, courtyards, alleys and hidden places. Whether evoking the cool of a deserted church on a hot summer's day, remembering Notre Dame in a winter storm in 1940, describing chestnut trees lit up at night like 'Japanese lanterns' or lamenting the passing of street cries and old buildings, his book is filled with unforgettable imagery. It is a meditation on getting lost and wasting time, and on what it truly means to know a city."
tl;dr: a love letter to Paris by an American writer who apparently had a lot to say (about himself).
Sarah's Key by Tatiana de Rosnay
"Paris, July 1942: Sarah, a ten-year-old girl is taken with her parents by the French police as they go door to door arresting Jewish families in the middle of the night. Desperate to protect her younger brother, Sarah lock him in a bedroom cupboard - their secret hiding place - and promises to come back to him as soon as they are released. Sixty years later: Sarah's story intertwines with that of Julia Jarmond, an American journalist investigating the roundup. In her research, Julia stumbles onto a trail of secrets that link her to Sarah, and to question about her own romantic future."
tl;dr: Jewish girl Sarah locks her brother in a closet out of fear for the police, and an American journalist discovers this story 60 years later.
"Joyce's first major work, written when he was only twenty-five, brought his city to the world for the first time. His stories are rooted in the rich detail of Dublin life, portraying ordinary often defeated lives with unflinching realism. He writes of social decline, sexual desire and exploitations, corruption and personal failure, yet creates a brilliantly compelling, unique vision of the world and of human experience."
tl;dr: James Joyce's first work, a collection of short stories, that brings Dublin and its people to life.
Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
"The luminous memoir of Frank McCourt, born in Depression-era Brooklyn to recent Irish immigrants and raised in the slums of Limerick, Ireland. Frank's mother, Angela, has no money to feed the children, since Frank's father, Malachy, rarely works, and when he does he drinks his wages. Yet Malachy - exasperating, irresponsible and beguiling - does nurture in Frank an appetite for the one thing he can provide: a story. Frank lives for his father's tales of Cuchulain, who saved Ireland, and of the Angel on the Seventh Step, who brings his mother babies.
Perhaps it is story that accounts for Frank's survival. Wearing rags for diapers, begging a pig's head for Christmas dinner and gathering coal from the roadside to light a fire, Frank endures poverty, near-starvation and the casual cruelty of relatives and neighbours - yet lives to tell his tale with eloquence, exuberance and remarkable forgiveness."
tl;dr: Frank McCourt's memoir of a childhood in poverty in the slums of Limerick, Ireland in the 1930s and 1940s.
Paul Murray (*1975) is an Irish novelist. Murray attended Blackrock College in south Dublin, which provided the basis for the school in Skippy Dies. He studied English literature at Trinity College, Dublin, and got his master's in creative writing at the University of East Anglia.
tl;dr: Skippy, Catholic boarding school student, dies during a donut eating contest. What happened?