Olivia Rosenthal
Olivia Rosenthal © Francesca Mantovani

Olivia Rosenthal, former resident of Villa Kujoyama, publishes «Un singe à ma fenêtre»

We are all pierced by an uninterrupted discourse. I feel that there are voices within us that never stop. Ultimately, trapping them through writing is perhaps a way of stopping them for a while.

Olivia Rosenthal, a well-known figure on the contemporary literary scene, has just published Un singe à ma fenêtre, a novel written at the end of her residency at Villa Kujoyama in Japan. 

Published on 17/11/2022

5 min

Born in Paris in 1965, Olivia Rosenthal is a writer and professor-researcher. A lecturer in literature since 1993, in 2013 she, along with Lionel Ruffel and Vincent Message, created the master's degree in literary creation at Paris 8, one of the first of its kind in France. She made her debut as a novelist with Dans le temps, published by Verticales in 1999, a publishing house to which she has remained loyal and where she will henceforth publish all her novels. Her work also extends to film (Les larmes, Tous les adultes ne sont pas méchants), theatre (Les félins m'aiment bien, Des cochons et des hommes) and performance art. In 2007 she received the Wepler Prize and the Pierre-Simon Prize, as well as the Prix du Livre Inter in 2011 for Que font les rennes après Noël

Olivia Rosenthal's books often take the form of investigations in which inner questioning is combined with a perspective on other people and the world itself, characterised by a decentring of, and a disengagement from, the self. Her style borrows from contemporary poetry, with breaks in syntax or an absence of punctuation that gives a distinctly spoken word feel to some of her texts. Whether they revolve around a precise writing protocol, or bear witness to the displacement of a being in the face of their often unanswered questions, Olivier Rosenthal's works are also permeated by a humour and a form of playfulness that always makes them easy to follow. 

Olivia Rosenthal, laureate of the 2018 Villa Kujoyama, arrives in Kyoto with the intention of investigating the sarin gas attacks that plunged Tokyo into mourning in 1995. It was also an opportunity for her to reflect on the 2015 Paris attacks by shifting her perspective and confronting the otherness that Japan represents for her. The result is a process detailed in Un singe à ma fenêtre, published in 2022 by Verticales. It recounts every stage of this journey, from the presentation of her proposal to a jury, to her encounter with Japan, which was initially marked by a sense of unease. Driven by a style that is both highly polished and breathtaking, the resulting narrative offers a vivid look at the practice of residency, and how this format allows the laureates to gradually rediscover another part of themselves artistically. 

  • 1999


    Dans le temps, her first novel.

  • 2013


    Creation, with Lionel Ruffel and Vincent Message, of the master of literary creation at Paris 8.

  • 2014


    Mécanismes de survie en milieu hostile, published by Verticales.

  • 2018


    Residency at Villa Kujoyama.

  • 2022


    Un singe à ma fenêtre, her latest novel.

The Institut français

The Villa Kujoyama is an arts establishment belonging to the Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs cultural cooperation network. Falling under the Institut français in Japan, it works in coordination with the Institut français and is supported by the Bettencourt Schueller Foundation, its principal patron. 

Find out more about the Villa Kujoyama 

L'institut français, LAB