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Emma Ramadan

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Join us to celebrate the publication of French author Virginie Despentes's novel Pretty Things, translated by Riffraff's own Emma Ramadan. She will be joined for a discussion by local activist Nika Lomazzo.


Claudine has always been pretty and Pauline has always been ugly. But when Claudine wants to become famous, she convinces gloomy Pauline—with her angelic voice—to pretend they’re the same person. Yet just as things take off, Claudine commits suicide.

Pauline hatches a new scheme, pulling on her dead sister’s identity, inhabiting her apartment, and reading her mail. As the impersonation continues, Pauline slowly realizes that the cost of femininity is to dazzle on the outside while rotting away on the inside—and that womanhood is what ultimately killed her sister.


Virginie Despentes is an award-winning author and filmmaker, and a noted French feminist and cultural critic. She is the author of many award-winning books, including Apocalypse Baby (winner of the 2010 Prix Renaudot) and Vernon Subutex (winner of the Anaïs-Nin Prize 2015, Prix Landerneau 2015, Prix La Coupole 2015). She also co-directed the screen adaptations of her controversial novels Baise-Moi and Bye Bye Blondie.


Emma Ramadan is a literary translator. She translates from Providence, Rhode Island, where she is also co-owner of Riffraff bookstore and bar. Her translations include Sphinx and Not One Day by Anne Garétta, Monospace by Anne Parian, and The Curious Case of Dassoukine’s Trousers by Fouad Laroui. She is a recipient of a 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund grant for her translation from the French of Ahmed Bouanani’s The Shutters.


Nika Lomazzo is a trans and political activist from Providence.

Earlier Event: September 20
Sarah Fawn Montgomery
Later Event: October 4
Beatriz Bracher