David Foenkinos was born in Paris in 1974. There he studied Literature at the Sorbonne and Jazz Music at the Centre d’informations musicales. He then worked as a guitar teacher and in the public relations offices of various publishing houses.
His career as a writer began in 2002 with the novel »Inversion de l’idiotie. De l’influence de deux Polonais« (tr. Inversion of idiocy. The influence of the two Poles), which won the Prix François-Mauriac. That the characters mentioned in the subtitle and other aspects – like the female figures’ interest in the German language – appear repeatedly in later works is one of the author’s trademarks. Also mentioned in many of Foenkinos’ novels is the book »La Belle du Seigneur« (1968; Eng. »Her Lover«, 2005) by Albert Cohen, whose philosophical-ironical reflections on the phenomena of love and passion and whose literary exaltation of the woman markedly influenced Foenkinos. Foenkinos himself names other role models, as well, including Philip Roth, Milan Kundera, and Woody Allen. While the style and plots of his early stories are characterized by a fast pace and weirdness when romance is abruptly followed by disillusionment and the human yearning for love is disenchanted, Foenkinos strikes up more melancholy tones starting with »Nos séparations« (2008; tr. Our separation). A review of this novel in the »Frankfurter Allgemeinen Zeitung« underscored its lightness and self-irony, as well as the author’s infatuation with language, which is reflected in the protagonist’s profession; he is a word researcher who, like most of Foenkinos’ male characters, is an awkward but likeable hero. In 2009, he published the novel »La délicatesse« (Eng. »Delicacy«, 2012), which he called a modern mixture between »Sleeping Beauty« and »Beauty and the Beast«. It was a bestseller, and in 2011, Foenkinos and his brother Stéphane filmed it with the French actress Audrey Tautou in the leading role. In 2014, Foenkinos took part in adapting his novel »Les souvenirs« (2011; tr. Souvenirs) as a screenplay. His newest novel, »Charlotte« (2014), tells of the life of the Jewish-German painter Charlotte Salomon, which he reconstructs based on one of her cycles. According to a French critique, Foenkinos dealt as delicately with this treasure hoard of memories as if Charlotte Salomon were his sister, mother, or even beloved. For this work, in 2014 he was awarded the Prix Renaudot and the Prix Goncourt des lycéens.
Foenkinos also writes theater plays and has been a columnist with the magazine »Psychologies« since 2008. He lives in Paris.