French culture has been enriched by some of the world’s finest writers over the centuries, from Voltaire to Victor Hugo and Marcel Proust. Now a new figure has emerged at the forefront of the country’s literary scene: a 22-year-old Internet star whose first book is a self-help guide that is outselling all France’s most eminent authors to the dismay of the nation’s intelligentsia.
Toujours Plus (Always More) by Léna Mahfouf, who uses the pen name Léna Situations, combines the author’s own experiences with advice to adolescents on such issues as avoiding toxic friends and coming to terms with their own bodies. It has sold 62,000 copies since its publication three weeks ago and Robert Laffont, the publisher, is printing a further 150,000. No other book has done so well this autumn, not even the criticially acclaimed Yoga, an intense and lofty work on meditation by Emmanuel Carrère.