Disclosure: The translator is my friend
Last year, when I first heard about the novel The Green and the Red by Armand Chauvel, translated from the French by Elisabeth Lyman, I admit I was skeptical. After learning that the main characters included Léa, owner of a vegetarian restaurant in a small French town, and Mathieu, a French "suit" trying to climb the corporate ladder in a local pork company, visions of stereotypes and clichés from both sides of the vegan-carnivore spectrum started twerping in my head. Remember, I am, perhaps the only woman in the world who could not manage to get past page 15 of Eat, Pray, Love, which I called "Gag, Puke, Hurl."
But I'm glad I did not, proverbially, judge this book by its cover because I was sincerely delighted with its contents. I breezed through The Green and the Red in a few days, and I was sad to close the book. It was a funny, honest and entertaining read that resonates beyond all dietary lines.
The most successful humor makes us laugh at ourselves and others, but it also surreptitiously teaches us things in spite of ourselves. More poignant messages about animal rights and the environment are deftly interwoven into the hilarious scenarios that Chauvel paints. [I don't want to give any of the plot away, but I will say that Léa's adorable miniature pet pig, Charlene, plays prominently, as does Pervenche, her salty, hardcore animal-rights sous chef.]
Chauvel pokes fun equally and eloquently at both obnoxious vegans and arrogant omnivores, alike. This novel will challenge your notion of tolerance and stereotypes –about both humans and animals – regardless of how you choose to eat.
My favorite line from the whole book, in this age of divisiveness among vegans and vegetarians is, "There are as many vegetarianisms as there are vegetarians." Amen.
The Green and the Red would make a fabulous romantic comedy film. I'm thinking Zooey Deschanel could play Léa and perhaps Joaquin Phoenix could star as Mathieu? Who do you think should star?
Special kudos to the translator, Elisabeth Lyman. She did a stunning job of bringing this French novel to life for English speakers. Translating is a difficult métier. Not only do you need to be fluent in two languages, but you also need to possess the eyes, ears, and soul of a true artist and writer, who can see beyond language and into the true spirit of human nature. This is Elisabeth. Brava!
Trust me on this one, The Green and the Red is a great read. And with the holidays upon us, I can't think of a vegetarian or vegan who wouldn't love waking up and finding it in his or her stocking.
- Read an excerpt of The Green and The Red here in English.
- Pour mes amis français, on peut feuilleter Le Vert et La Rouge ici.
- Armand Chauvel gére le blog Vegeshopper, un blog de la conso végeterienne et vegan.
- The Green and the Red on Facebook
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