Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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Jonathan Littell ’89

Since critical opinions have ranged from “a world-class masterpiece” to “bloatedly inept,” you may have to read the new doorstop of a novel by Jonathan Littell ’89 for yourself. Just be prepared for the incest and genocide. The Kindly Ones, Littell’s fictional memoir of a Nazi SS officer, was released in English on March 3 to great fanfare after collecting a slew of prizes and selling 700,000 copies in the original French. HarperCollins reportedly spent $1 million to acquire the American rights, and the company has launched a major promotional campaign in hope of replicating the book’s European triumph. But even if The Kindly Ones doesn’t succeed here, Littell will always have Paris: although he is an American by birth and lives in Barcelona, he was awarded French citizenship after the book’s publication under a law that makes citizenship available to those whose “meritorious actions contribute to the glory of France.”

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