The Boy


The Boy


By Marcus Malte

Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan and Tom Roberge

With a Preface by Julie Orringer

Winner of the prestigious Prix Femina, The Boy is an expansive and entrancing historical novel that follows a nearly feral child from the French countryside as he joins society and plunges into the torrid events of the first half of the 20th century.

Book Details

Paperback List Price: $22.99 • ISBN: 9781632061713 • Publication: Mar 26, 2019 • 6” x 9” • 448 pages • Fiction: Historical—early 20th Century / Coming of Age / War Novel / Love Story / France • Territory: World English • eBook ISBN: 9781632061720

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About the Book

The boy does not speak. The boy has no name. The boy, raised half-wild in the forests of southern France, sets out alone into the wilderness and the greater world beyond. Without experience of another person aside from his mother, the boy must learn what it is to be human, to exist among people, and to live beyond simple survival.

As this wild and naive child attempts to join civilization, he encounters earthquakes and car crashes, ogres and artists, and, eventually, all-encompassing love and an inescapable war. His adventures take him around the world and through history on a mesmerizing journey, rich with unforgettable characters. A hamlet of farmers fears he’s a werewolf, but eventually raise him as one of their own. A circus performer who toured the world as a sideshow introduces the boy to showmanship and sanitation. And a chance encounter with an older woman exposes him to music and the sensuous pleasures of life. The boy becomes a guide whose innocence exposes society’s wonder, brutality, absurdity, and magic.

Beginning in 1908 and spanning three decades, The Boy is as an emotionally and historically rich exploration of family, passion, and war from one of France’s most acclaimed and bestselling authors.


Praise for The Boy

“The book you’re about to read shines a fierce and necessary light on our world.  Read it patiently, if you can—a challenge at times, considering the wild and unexpected turns it takes, and the pleasures that lie around every corner—and discover, or re-discover, what it means to be a member of the human tribe.”

—Julie Orringer, author of The Invisible Bridge and The Flight Portfolio, from the Preface

“With its stunning array of characters and meditations on the meaning of life’s travails, the boy’s story poignantly raises the question of what, exactly, it means to be civilized.”

—Bridget Thoreson, Booklist

“This book is a grand epic, a magnificent story that resurrects the myth of the wild child that discovers civilization. It’s a great novel of learning, an allegory of the savaging of men by war.”

—Mona Ozouf, President of the Femina Prize

“Malte delivers the boy's story viscerally, moment by moment, in rich, elegantly descriptive language, at the same time effectively showing us the larger picture. The boy is all of us, an innocent thrown into the world. VERDICT Highly recommended.”

—Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal

“Marcus Malte’s dark and intriguing novel The Boy, which won the Prix Femina in 2016 in his native France. Known and celebrated as a crime novelist, Malte plants his plot in familiar literary ground: the bloody Grande Guerre, as the French name World War One…. The Boy remains a mirror, absorbing the projections of others, puzzling the people around him, including the reader. And this perhaps is where Malte is at his best in this novel. What starts as Rousseau’s tale of the “Bon sauvage” (Noble savage), and seems to evolve into a traditional Bildungsroman, bifurcates into bitter and dark irony. The Boy has observed and absorbed society, yet in the end nature will claim him back. The company of humans is not the best choice to make, after all.”

—Filip Noubel, Asymptote

“Tom and I also co-translated a book coming out this month (March) with Restless Books called The Boy by Marcus Malte. Shameless plug alert. It’s a stunningly beautiful book on the sentence level and utterly unique on the plot level and we can’t wait to have something we both worked so hard on at the store.”

—Emma Ramadan, Book Marks

“Malte’s outwardly simple tale of romance and war ends up being a profound meditation on wisdom.”

Publishers Weekly


About the Author

© Raphaël Gaillarde

© Raphaël Gaillarde

Marcus Malte was born in 1967 in Seyne-sur-Mer, a small harbor city in the south of France, along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. As a child, Malte immersed himself in literature, discovering the novels of John Steinbeck, Albert Cohen, Louis-Ferdinand Céline and Jean Giono. He began writing in elementary school and chose to major in film studies after graduating from high school. At twenty-three, Malte became a projectionist in Seyne-sur-Mer’s historical movie theater and soon wrote his first short stories. Later in the 1990s he began reaching broader audience with a series of novels, a couple of hard-boiled detective stories where Malte created the recurrent character of Mister, a jazz pianist.

Marcus Malte’s fiction includes Garden of Love his first real success (rewarded with a dozen literary prizes, including the Grand Prix of the readers of Elle, police category, 2007) Les Harmoniques (Prix Mystère de la Critique, 2012) and more recently Le Garçon (The Boy) for which he received the famous Femina Literary Prize (2016). The Boy is his first novel to be translated into English.


About the Translators

Emma Ramadan is a literary translator based in Providence, RI where she is the co-owner of Riffraff bookstore and bar. She is the recipient of a PEN/Heim grant, an NEA translation grant, and a Fulbright fellowship for her translation work.

















Tom Roberge is co-owner of Riffraff bookstore and bar in Providence, Rhode Island. He learned French as a Peace Corps volunteer in Madagascar and was formerly the Deputy Director of Albertine Books, a French language bookstore in New York.

© Stephanie Rausser

© Stephanie Rausser

Julie Orringer is the author of the novel The Invisible Bridge and the award-winning short-story collection How to Breathe Underwater, which was a New York Times Notable Book. She is the winner of the Paris Review’s Plimpton Prize for Fiction and the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Stanford University, and the Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers at the New York Public Library. She lives in Brooklyn.