François Place

Portrait François Place
© Ali Ghandtschi

Born in the in Val d’Oise town of Ezanville in 1957, François Place studied graphics at the École Estienne in Paris before working as an illustrator in the audiovisual sector as well as in publishing and advertising. Along with two collaborators he developed the Louvre’s web presence for children in 2008.
His international breakthrough came with his first story in text and images, »Les derniers géants« (1992, »The Last Giants«). This award-winning children’s book, which blurs the boundaries between adventure story, research paper and fairy tale, introduces Archibald Leopold Ruthmore, who discovers a tribe of nine giants in the Asian highlands forgotten by the outside world, only to bring about their extinction. Full of nuances, irony and intertextual allusions, François Place would go on to develop the book’s iconographic and literary themes throughout his entire body of work. His adventure stories in the form of travel chronicles continually engage readers’ imaginative faculties and take them beyond their conception of reality. In »Le roi des trois Orients« (»The King of the Three Orients«, 2006), a caravan defies enormous challenges as it wanders the world for an unspecified period in search of a legendary king. Much remains veiled in this story, inviting readers to fill in the blanks with their own interpretations. This picture book boasts »expertly-matched images and text […]. Place manages to combine an elevated tone with a delight in expression and the straightforward prose of legends, without ever becoming dowdy«, commented Eva-Maria Magel in the »Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung« in 2008. In his first novel, »La douane volante« (2010, tr. The Flying Border) François Place remained true to his goal of using utopian visions to expand the image of reality. This fantastical coming-of-age novel relates the story of orphan Gwen, growing up in Brittany in 1914 as apprentice to the blind healer Braz. When a black-clad man whisks him off in a carriage one day, Gwen finds himself in a strange land which appears out of the past, bearing similarity to his own world but following its own unique rules. Gwen wants nothing more than to return to France. Inspired by a 17th century Flemish painting, François Place here works through his favourite themes, including the hero’s voyage as an initiation rite, the sea and human society, along with further historical elements such as the anatomical research which was forbidden in the era. François Place has received numerous national and international awards over the years. He lives near Paris.

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