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France Special

Andrew Marr discusses France with novelists Agnes Desarthe and Karim Miske, commentator Anne-Elisabeth Moutet and historian Robert Gildea, talking hours before the Paris attacks.

Andrew Marr was in Paris on Friday to record a special edition of Start the Week about France. Hours later the Paris attacks happened. This programme is not about these attacks or Islamic State or the French role in the war in Syria, but it is a conversation about the political, cultural and religious fault lines in France from the 19th century to today.
As BBC Radio 4 plans to broadcast a retelling of Emile Zola's 20 novel cycle, Les Rougon-Macquart, the journalist Anne-Elisabeth Moutet explores whether Zola is a 19th century gateway into understanding modern France. The novelist Agnès Desarthe has set her latest novel at the beginning of the 20th century and mixes the intimate with the great events of French history. The French Resistance is one of France's heroic myths and is central to the country's identity, but the historian Robert Gildea says the reality is far more complex. And contemporary France in all its complexity is represented in Karim Miské's thriller set among the radical Islamic preachers, Christian fundamentalists and corrupt police officers in one of the poorest suburbs of Paris.
Producer: Katy Hickman.

Available now

43 minutes

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet

Anne-Elisabeth Moutet is a journalist and political commentator.

Agnès Desarthe

Agnès Desarthe is a writer.

Ce Coeur Changeant is out in paperback and will be published in English as This Fickle Heart next year.

Robert Gildea

Robert Gildea is Professor of Modern History at the University of Oxford.

Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance is published by Faber & Faber.

Karim Miské

Karim Miské is a documentary film-maker and writer.

Arab Jazz is published by MacLehose Press.

Karim will be be participating in two events in London on Saturday 5 December: one is organised by English Pen at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green, the other by La Page.


Role Contributor
Presenter Andrew Marr
Interviewed Guest Agnes Desarthe
Interviewed Guest Karim Miske
Interviewed Guest Anne-Elisabeth Moutet
Interviewed Guest Robert Gildea
Producer Katy Hickman


  • Mon 16 Nov 2015 09:03
  • Mon 16 Nov 2015 21:30

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