City Lights and Fern Books celebrate the publication of
Like a Sky Inside
by Jakuta Alikavazovic
translated from the French by Daniel Levin Becker
published by Fern Books
In March 2020, a young woman spends the night in the Louvre. At home: her nine-month-old son. In her overnight bag: a notebook, a toiletry kit, a duvet, a cube of nougat, and something that shouldn’t be there. In her head: memories of the Venus de Milo, of land art and the American road, of romance and travel and immigration and war — and of her father, who after each of their many visits to the Louvre would ask just how she’d go about stealing the Mona Lisa.
An insightful and heartfelt meditation on the possibilities and impossibilities of art, on parenthood and the betrayals of growing up, on foreignness and belonging, and on the secret conversations between our souls and the places that linger in our dreams.
Jakuta Alikavazovic is a French writer of Bosnian and Montenegrin origins. She has received the Prix Goncourt for a first novel and the Prix Médicis for non-fiction, among other European awards and nominations. She is a columnist for the newspaper Libération and the translator into French of authors including David Foster Wallace and Toni Morrison.
What has been said about the work of Jakuta Alikavazovic
“A perfect sculpture of pure thought, the kind of artwork that makes you want to steal it, a generous and joyful book that stitches memory and philosophy and narrative together so elegantly I was completely enthralled.”
-Catherine Lacey, author of Biography of X and Pew
“Like a Sky Inside is about a night spent at the Louvre, but really it is about art and enchantment, exile and longing. Above all, it is a devastatingly tender portrait of Alikavazovic’s relationship with her father, written with unsurpassed brio, intelligence, and empathy.”
-Katie Kitamura, author of Intimacies and A Separation
“With this book, Jakuta confirms her immense and singular talent. She leads us in superb style through the Louvre, on the trail of her childhood. She examines identity, the place of memory, and that territory of the night that she has brilliantly made her own. A deeply moving book! ”
-Leïla Slimani, author of The Perfect Nanny and Watch Us Dance
“Like a Sky Inside is that rare, crystalline short book that manages to be about a lot of different things — art, immigration and xenophobia, parenthood, daughterhood, self-invention — while seeming only to be about one (highly singular) evening in the writer’s life. It is lucid, meditative, pointed, and so beautifully written that reading it provides precious moments of a kind of generative peace. A gift of a book.”
-Lydia Kiesling, author of Mobility and The Golden State
“Jakuta Alikavazovic’s sentences and charged silences bring individual and collective histories into unpredictable, illuminating relation. She writes with lyric precision while making the limits of language felt. We need all of her books in English.”
-Ben Lerner, author of The Topeka School and Leaving the Atocha Station
“Alikavazovic has devised, with an impressive sense of finesse, a shimmering story in which she weaves a mending thread through a swollen and fragmented relationship—because the past, as she says, is also an elsewhere, its horizon constantly expanding. ”
-Thierry Clermont, Le Figaro
This event is made possible by support from the City Lights Foundation