Alice Kaplan was born in 1954 in Minneapolis, the youngest of three children. She studied as an undergraduate at Vassar College and at the University of California at Berkeley, and received her Ph.D. from Yale University in 1981. Her thesis was published in 1986 as Reproductions of Banality: Fascism, Literature, and French Intellectual Life in the prestigious “History and Theory of Literature” collection at the University of Minnesota Press. In 1988, Kaplan published a French book-length critique of Céline’s first anti-Semitic pamphlet, Bagatelles pour un massacre. The 1993 French Lessons, an autobiographic account of her passion for the French language, became a best-seller for the University of Chicago Press. The book was chosen as “Notable Book of the Year” by the New York Times and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Written on a Guggenheim Foundation grant, Kaplan’s next book, The Collaborator: The Trial and Execution of Robert Brasillach (2000), was a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Los Angeles Times Book Award. The Collaborator was chosen as a “Notable Book of 2000” both by the New York Times and the American Library Association and ultimately won the 2000 Los Angeles Times Book Award in History. Kaplan’s latest book, The Interpreter, came out in 2005 and was awarded the Society for History in the Federal Government’s 2006 Henry Adams Prize.
A Professor of Romance Studies and Literature at Duke University, Kaplan founded Duke’s Center for French and Francophone Studies and served as its first director. She has been a member of the usage panel of the American Heritage Dictionary since 1997 and serves on the editorial board of the South Atlantic Quarterly journal. In addition to her original writing and scholarship, she is also a translator, most notably of the French writer Roger Grenier, of whom she has translated three books: Le Pierrot noir, Les Larmes d’Ulysse, and Partita. Currently, Kaplan divides her time between Durham, North Carolina, and Paris.
Awards and Special Recognition…
1993 – A finalist for the National Book Critic’s Circle Award
2000 – A finalist for the National Book Award and the National Book Critic Circle’s Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for History
2005 – Winner of the Henry Adams Prize, from the Society for History in the Federal Government
LOOKING FOR THE STRANGER: Albert Camus and the Life of a Literary Classic
2016 – A New York Times notable book of 2016 and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.