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2021 | Best Non-Fiction Writing

Updated: Dec 15, 2021

From Mona Chollet's much awaited essay about love to a beautiful book about migrants, frontiers and borders by Jean-Michel André & Wilfried N'Sondé, the best essays of 2021 cover pressing matters under a new light.

Réinventer l'amour, Mona Chollet | La Découverte

At the heart of our romantic comedies, our portrayals of the ideal couple, is often encoded a form of female inferiority, suggesting that women should choose between full expression of themselves and blissful love. Social conditioning, which persuades men that everything is due to them, while valuing self-sacrifice and dedication in women and undermining their self-confidence, produces power imbalances that can culminate in physical and psychological violence. Even the attitude that everyone is pushed to adopt with regards to love, women learning to over-value it and men to deny it a central place in their life, leads to relationships that can only be unhappy. On the sexual level, finally, male fantasies continue to saturate the space of desire: how can women find a gaze and a voice?

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La fabrique des pandémies, Marie-Monique Robin | La Découverte

Since the 2000s, hundreds of scientists have sounded the alarm: human activities, by precipitating the collapse of biodiversity, have created the conditions for an "epidemic of pandemics". This is what this essay shows, mobilizing a great deal of work and unpublished interviews with more than sixty researchers from around the world. By finally providing an overview, accessible to all, Marie-Monique Robin helps dispel the great collective blindness that prevented action. The report is clear: the destruction of ecosystems by deforestation, urbanisation, industrial agriculture and economic globalisation directly threatens planetary health.

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Borders, Jean-Michel André & Wilfried N'Sondé | Actes Sud

In Borders, Jean-Michel André questions the notion of border, a question which takes the form of a wandering, whose starting point is in the Jungle of Calais on the eve of the evacuation of the slum in 2016. André pursued the project over three years in France, Italy, Spain and Tunisia - anywhere there were refugees in search of shelter, anywhere there were men, women and children brought together by the same hope of crossing one final stretch of water.

With accompanying texts by writer Wilfried N’Sondé, whose novels follow similar themes, together André and N’Sondé combine their disciplines the creation being Borders which is neither a linear series nor narrative – rather a collection of works.

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À la folie, Joy Sorman | Flammarion

Over the course of a year, Joy Sorman visited ward 4B of a mental hospital and heard the words of those said to be insane and their caregivers. Of these men and women with damaged lives, the author has produced a book in which Franck, Maria, Catherine, Youcef, Barnabé and Robert are the unforgettable characters. À la folie is the romance of their locked life.

Un corps à soi, Camille Froidevaux-Metterie | Seuil

For a long time, women were nothing but bodies, defined by their sexual and maternal functions. The feminist revolution freed them from this straitjacket, but it also devalued the female body.

The philosopher's thought progresses through an exploration of the bodily events which punctuate the lives of women: from entangled childhood to invisible menopause, from adolescent shame to the discovery of pleasure, of the ordeal of real maternal to the ravages of sexual violence. Through these stages, the author lays the foundations that will allow women to regain possession of their bodies.

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