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May 1, 2018

Emmanuelle de Villepin's Playlist for Her Novel "The Devil's Reward"

The Devil's Reward

In the Book Notes series, authors create and discuss a music playlist that relates in some way to their recently published book.

Previous contributors include Jesmyn Ward, Bret Easton Ellis, Celeste Ng, Lauren Groff, T.C. Boyle, Dana Spiotta, Amy Bloom, Aimee Bender, Heidi Julavits, Hari Kunzru, and many others.

Emmanuelle de Villepin's The Devil's Reward is her first novel to be translated into English.

Booklist wrote of the book:

"De Villepin’s intimate family portrait…gracefully highlights the ways people of widely varying temperaments learn to coexist…[and] features gratifyingly in-depth character studies and a strong sense of place.”"


In her own words, here is Emmanuelle de Villepin's Book Notes music playlist for her novel The Devil's Reward:



The playlist I use when I write is called “writing list” because the music I choose to accompany me in the meanderings of writing is a real support. Sometimes it can be quite tricky when I read out loud what I just put on paper, and it seems rich with the music and totally flat when I switch it off. I don’t differentiate between classic and contemporary music, as long as it’s inspiring and helps me to stay inside my imagination’s world.

David Bowie, "Rebel, Rebel": This is not the kind of music I appreciate when I write because too much energy doesn’t induce to reflexion, but my main protagonist, Christiane, who is an anti-conformist, intelligent and creative old woman, would appreciate this song. It may sound anachronistic but it perfectly illustrates her witty and free character.

Johan Schubert, "Die Winterreise": Schubert is my best friend. Die Wintereise puts me in the mood I need to write. It’s like a delicate and caring presence. I like the version sung by Thomas Quasthoff and played by Daniel Barenboim. Writing is a solitary exercise and I like to feel them behind my shoulders like two supportive angels.

Johan Christian Bach, “Requiem": Requiem are always very inspiring, and they have the capability to give me a new perspective to look at the events I describe. They were composed for death and maybe this is the reason why they give a certain distance from what you feel and the meaning of all this messy and chaotic adventure we call life. I have a predilection for the requiems of Bach and Mozart.

Leonard Cohen, everything: I was a young girl when my father introduced me to Leonard Cohen’s music. I still remember my emotions listening to ‘Suzanne’ or to ‘Marianne.’ Since then, I’ve always been faithful and devoted to everything he composed. His texts are beautiful and even when I don’t really listen, they take me away, exactly where I need to be.

Brahms, “Hungarian Dances”: The story I tell occurs in the last century, and between France, Germany, and Switzerland. It has nothing to do with Hungary but nevertheless “The Hungarian dances” would perfectly suit Aunt Bette: refined, sophisticated and nostalgic. I imagine her riding horses or dancing on the notes of this music.

Dire Straits, “Where Do You Think You’re Going”: I was 20 years old when “communiqué” came out. We listened to it all day and all night long. I never get fed up with this music. Mark Knopfler’s final guitar solo is amazing even after the billion time I have listened to it. It seems to me that it helps the words come out, and run and run like a flowing river.

Johan Sebastian Bach, “The Goldberg Variations”: The 1955 Goldberg variations by Glenn Gould is an incredible support when you write. You can listen without listening. It’s gives fluidity and grace to your ideas but it never really interferes with your work.

Ezio Bosso “Following a Bird”: A friend of mine introduced me to the music of this Italian composer when I started to write “The Devil’s Reward”. The very title can explain my enthusiasm: following a bird or following a story is the same: You have to stay focused and careful. The magic of the flight and the precision of the trajectory is exactly what you would like to get writing a book.


Emmanuelle de Villepin and The Devil's Reward links:

the author's Wikipedia page

Kirkus review

Publishers Weekly profile of the author


also at Largehearted Boy:

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Book Notes (2015 - ) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2012 - 2014) (authors create music playlists for their book)
Book Notes (2005 - 2011) (authors create music playlists for their book)
my 11 favorite Book Notes playlist essays

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