Yannick Haenel translated from the French by Teresa Lavender Fagan

Hold Fast Your Crown

A Novel

Hold Fast Your Crown

Publication Date: Apr 02, 2019

336 pp


List Price US $9.99
ISBN: 978-1-59051-976-9

Trade Paperback

List Price US $17.99
Trim Size (H x W): 5.5 x 8.25
ISBN: 978-1-59051-975-2

An exasperated writer obsessed with American cinema embarks on an increasingly bizarre journey in this heady, engrossing novel.

A man writes an enormous screenplay on the life of Herman Melville. Not a single producer is interested in it. One day, someone gives him the phone number of the great American filmmaker Michael Cimino, legendary director of The Deer Hunter and Heaven’s Gate. A meeting is arranged in New York, and Cimino reads the manuscript. What follows is a series of crazy adventures through Ellis Island, the Musée de la Chasse in Paris, a lake in Italy.

We run into Isabelle Huppert, Diana the hunting goddess, a Dalmatian named Sabbat, a diabolical neighbor, and two shady characters with conspicuous mustaches. There’s also a pretty PhD student, an unpleasant concierge, and an aggressive maître d’ who looks like Emmanuel Macron…

This improbable, insightful tale bridges the divide between cinema and literature in unexpected ways that are at once gratifying and profound.

Excerpt from Hold Fast Your Crown

Because I was standing in front of that painting, in clear sight, constantly glancing around me, each time I turned to the entrance of the room, watching for Cimino to arrive, the guard kept catching my glance. Each time, she stared at me, and over time her look became harder: it had taken on an air not of disapproval (that would be excessive), but of slight, wary questioning: what I was doing there, standing for more than forty minutes in front of a painting, when I wasn’t even looking at that painting (I was too preoccupied by Cimino’s imminent arrival), but constantly looking around me, that’s what the guard’s look was expressing (and I couldn’t blame her).

So that Michael Cimino would find me right away, I was armed with the book by Jean-François Lyotard on Malraux, which I was holding straight up, in front of my chest, as if I was trying to sell it, which, I could see, added to the bizarreness of my appearance, thus to the suspicions of the guard, who seemed increasingly nervous.

I then realized (I had been waiting almost an hour) that I didn’t know what Michael Cimino looked like today; I had an idea of his face, but that face was probably the one he had had at the time of Heaven’s Gate, at the height of his glory, which went back more than thirty years: each time I turned toward the entrance, I expected to see that Michael Cimino with the round cheeks of thirty years ago appear, with a cowboy hat and Ray-Bans, whose image I had seen everywhere at the time.

Shortlisted for the 2017 Prix Goncourt 

“A story of madness, art, alcohol and creativity…elegantly translated…vivid.” —New York Times

“[An] audacious novel…The book’s charm lies in its determination to take outlandish risks.” —The New Yorker

“[A] unique, ecstatic novel.” —Wall Street Journal

“Entertaining.” —New York Times Book Review

“The delightfully deluded protagonist of [Hold Fast Your Crown] juggles high and pop culture references with aplomb and a light touch…This is a stimulating novel, full of mischief and clever curveballs.” —Publishers Weekly

“This wildly ambitious novel audaciously layers on metaphors that explore truth, film and art, and the essence of life.” —Booklist

Hold Fast Your Crown is French literature at its best…it works, in no small measure thanks to Haenel’s strange and haunting prose…stimulating…beautiful and memorable.” —PopMatters

“Undeniably dazzling…a remarkable, sustained, high-wire act, a book that seems constantly to teeter on the edge of disaster without ever quite succumbing. Hold Fast Your Crown thrives on Haenel’s buoyant prose.” —New York Journal of Books

“Crazy, brilliant, addictive, and darkly poetic.” —Le Figaro
“Wonderfully mad.” —Le Parisien
“A wild novel, a blaze of astounding images.” —L’Obs
“Intense…a book of visions, fantasies, and obsessions.” —Le Monde

“Written on the razor’s edge, in a perpetual tension, this profound and hallucinatory book is a firecracker.” —Le Canard enchaîné

“A literary fever and fervor that speak volumes.” —Lire