The World's Best Unknown Books

Louis Calaferte


Louis Calaferte belongs to the classics, yet seems to be forgotten, even in France.

Louis Calaferte was born in 1928 in Turin and immigrated to France with his parents when he was still a child. His family lived in poverty in the suburbs of Lyon. His miserable childhood provided the material for his first novel, Requiem des innocents.

Calaferte had barely any schooling or ever even opened a book. He found work in a factory at the age of thirteen. During his factory years he discovered the joys of reading. Books became a real passion, and he remained an avid reader throughout his life. At the age of seventeen he moved to Paris and started writing. Several women provided him with financial support. He wrote plays, but his literary breakthrough came in 1952 with his first novel, published with the help of Joseph Kessel. He never stopped writing, producing largely autobiographical works.

Calaferte remained outside the French literary scene his entire life, a marginal figure living mainly in Lyon and later in Dijon – at the periphery of France’s literary centre of Paris.

Louis Calaferte