A feast of the French language Animated films, cartoonists and new outlets for French literature are on hand as the French celebrate their language

By David Frazier


While studying at a Paris University around 30 years ago, Golo was christened after a fictional Senegalese monkey. Those who did the christening were his buddies in Commune Number 5, a fake political group in which he was active at the time. The name Golo has stayed with him ever since, becoming the hallmark by which he is known in the world of illustrated books and graphic novels.
Two weeks ago, Golo arrived in Taipei to work on an illustrated travel journal about Taiwan . This weekend, the renown cartoon writer will also take a central role in “Lire en Fete”, an international celebration of French language and literature sponsored by the French Institute in Taipei , the Belgian Trade Association, Taipei and Le Pigeonnier book store.
Staging a series of events, including animated films, musical performances and a banquet with a lot of Belgian beer, Taipei ’s francophones will show that they know how to throw a good party.

Golo will take part in the intellectual side of the affair by displaying his artwork in Itung Park (the actual park with trees, not the IT Park art gallery), attending book signings and joining French and Belgian cartoon writers Delaby, Alice, and Adamov as well as several Taiwanese colleagues in a discussion forum on their art.

As this year’s theme is “Lire en Fete” — a French homonym for “reading as a party or reading as being” — cartoon art will receive a tribute from the French and Belgians, who have long viewed comics as an accepted literary form.

Unlike many North Americans, French speakers seldom look down on cartoons as mere adolescent reading material. Golo would even go so far as to call some of his own books “philosophical novels.” “Mendiants et Orgueilleux” is one of them. The graphic novel, which Golo produced with comic writer Albert Cossery, tells the story of beggars, the corrupt and the street life of Cairo , the city which Golo has called home for the last eight years. It was there that he learned to speak Arabic among the ubiquitous cafes and clusters of men smoking from water pipes, and it is from such scenes that he draws his inspiration.

“The street life there is the fantastic thing for me,” he said. “Of course I have read Tin Tin and I’m influenced by what I read in books, but I think the most of what I see with my eyes.”
“Lire en Fete” also comes in conjunction with five new sales outlets for French books in Taipei : Kingstone Tienmu ( 32-52 Tienmu W. Rd. ), Kingstone Chunghsiao (230 Chunghsiao E. Rd., Sec 3), Kingstone Dingchou ( 184 Dingchou Rd. , Sec. 3), the Sophie Hong Studio (4, Lane 228, Hsinyi Rd. , Sec. 2), and the bookshop at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum. All unveil new French book sections this weekend.

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