ARC Special Discovery – Romain Gary’s The Kites [now claimed thanks!]

August 1, 2017

Recently interviewers have been asking famous authors and others what book they’re “evangelists” for.  A reader evangelism candidate for me is Romain Gary’s The Kites, first published in France in 1980 but just this fall being published in English by New Directions. It’s the story of Ludo, a rural French boy/man in 1930’s and WWII, and his eccentric uncle, a postal clerk who builds and flies elaborate kites bearing the likenesses of French historical leaders and thinkers. Ludo pursues Lila, a girl living nearby from a Polish aristocratic family. Yes, it’s a boy grows up chasing girl trope, but so much more interesting and thought-provoking than that sounds.  A suspenseful, aching, but uplifting tale asking what we are actually willing to do to act on our highest quests and ideals (metaphorically represented by the kites and by Lila herself, though she’s so much braver and more active than the pedestal fascination that she initially is for Ludo), this title would make an excellent book discussion piece as well as individual read. The translator does a thorough job noting French political and cultural allusions that might be unfamiliar to the reader.  I hope someone will comment to claim. It will be in the catalog soon.


Gary, Romain. The Kites. New Directions. Oct. 31. 

Publisher summary from W. W. Norton: 

On a small farm in Normandy, as Hitler rises to power in Germany, young Ludo comes of age in the care of his Uncle Ambrose, an eccentric mailman, kite-maker, and pacifist. Ludo’s quiet existence changes the day he meets Lila, a girl from the aristocratic Polish family who own the estate next door. In a single glance, Ludo instantly falls in love forever; Lila, on the other hand, remains elusive. Thus begins Ludo’s adventure of longing, passion, and steadfast love for Lila, who begins to reciprocate his feelings just as Europe descends into war. After Germany invades Poland, Lila and her family disappear, and Ludo’s journey to save her from the Nazis becomes a journey to save his loved ones, his country, and ultimately himself.Filled with unforgettable characters—an indomitable chef who believes Michelin stars are more enduring than military conquests; a Jewish brothel Madam who reinvents everything about herself during the war; a piano virtuoso turned RAF pilot— The Kites is Romain Gary’s poetic call for resistance in whatever form it takes.

cover image for The Kites



3 Responses to “ARC Special Discovery – Romain Gary’s The Kites [now claimed thanks!]”

  1. Darren Says:

    Claimed – thank you!

  2. Gwen Goodbee Says:

    Sounds good to me, if it’s not claimed I’ll take it.
    Gwen @ Clinton

  3. Darren Says:

    Unfortunately it is but I’ve ordered several copies ☺

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