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Seven Stories Press

Works of Radical Imagination

Village Voices

A Memoir of the Village Voice Bookshop, Paris, 1982-2012

by Odile Hellier

Book cover for Village Voices
Book cover for Village Voices

A celebration of the legacy of the Village Voice bookshop in Paris, founded by Odile Hellier in 1982—a hub of social life and a refuge for artists, writers, and anglophone literary life for over three decades until it closed in 2012.

This collective memoir brings to life a literary history of a heady time in Paris, capturing a myriad of voices for whom “literature was not just a pastime but the very stuff of life.”

Village Voices is a collective memoir that brings to life the authors, publishers, and friends who frequented one of the most famous English-Language bookstores in Paris—the Village Voice bookshop. Founded by Odile Hellier in 1982, Village Voice was a hub for artists, writers, and anglophone literary life for over three decades. Told through the voices of artists that were reckoning, preserving, challenging, and archiving the time and languages that they lived in, this carefully curated collection, organized thematically, encapsulates some of the most important reflections and debates of 20th century literary history. From Allen Ginsberg to Toni Morrison, Michael Ondaatje, Raymond Carver, and Amy Tan, Hellier preserves the decades-long vibrant readings and dialogues that took place in this tiny bookshop on the Rue Princesse.

Hellier mines decades of archival footage to present anecdotes and insight from the spontaneous and informal exchanges that occurred among generations of literary and cultural icons. These artists present a multidimensional landscape of Parisian literary history in dialogue with American and global literary conversation. The book is a life-long curatorial project, a conversation across time, and a historical archive, created by a bookseller seeking to preserve the history of her much-loved bookstore.

Book cover for Village Voices
Book cover for Village Voices

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“Village Voices is a completely unique and cherishable chronicle of a time and a place which—if you were lucky enough to be there—gracefully invited you into the wider world's literary imagination. Odile Hellier is incomparable.”

ODILE HELLIER was born in the South of France during World War II and raised in the two different regions of Lorraine, near the German border still haunted by past wars, and Brittany fronting the Atlantic Ocean. After advanced studies in Russian language and literature she taught in high school for two years, she decided to broaden her scope and work in world organizations. During the fall of 1968, Hellier enrolled in a professional school in Paris that trained translators and interpreters in international relations. Hellier is the founder and owner of the Village Voice Bookshop—a hub of Anglophone literary life and culture that operated in the heart of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in Paris for over thirty years. Village Voices is Hellier’s archival project and personal memoir.