Have You Read A Year in the Merde?

Words by:

Nyssa P. Chopra
Have you read the book, A Year in the Merde by Stephen Clarke? (FYI, merde = shit in French)
It’s a comical tale that chronicles the misadventures of a British marketing professional as he runs wild through the streets of Paris and navigates his way through the provocative behaviors, distinct mannerisms, and unique habits of the French, particularly at work and with his interactions with French women.
This was a gift given by my diehard Francophile American friend who has called France home for many years now. He gave me the book a few years ago before I moved to Paris, thinking it would give me great insight into the French culture and people. And he was absolutely right. Most books don’t catch my attention from the get-go, but this one had me bursting into tears (the happy kind, of course) from the very beginning. Stephen’s witty take on the French was refreshing, and after having lived in both the UK and France, I can appreciate and understand where much of his humorous commentary comes from. It’s filled to the brim with stereotypes, so it’s not meant to be taken literally, but it sure does provide plenty of entertainment value.
The genre of contemporary cultural humor is one of my favorites to read. It’s usually screwball accounts of someone living in a foreign country, straddling two (or more) cultures and subsequently, detailing the crazy mishaps he/she experiences. It serves as the best inspiration for me to visit myself and debunk/verify those impressions.
All in all — this book is a MUST for any francophile and/or anyone moving to France. Or anyone looking for a good laugh!
What are your thoughts on the book?