Virginie Despentes

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Virginie Despentes
Despentes in March 2012
Despentes in March 2012
Born (1969-06-13) 13 June 1969 (age 50)
Nancy, Meurthe-et-Moselle
OccupationNovelist, sex worker, filmmaker

Virginie Despentes (French: [depɑ̃t]; born 13 June 1969) is a French writer, novelist, and filmmaker. Her work is an inventory of youth marginalization; it participates to the sexual revolution lived by Generation X and to the acclimation of pornography in public spaces through new communication techniques. With a transgressive exploration of obscenity's limits,[1] as a novelist or a film-maker she proposes social critique and an antidote to the new moral order,[2] her characters deal with misery and injustice, self-violence such as drug addiction, or violence towards others such rape or terrorism, violences she also had suffered from. She is one of the most popular French authors from this era.

She was named a member of the Académie Goncourt on January 5, 2016.

Life and career[edit]

Despentes settled in Lyon,[3] where she worked as a maid, a prostitute in "massage parlors" and peep shows, a sales clerk in a record store, and a freelance rock journalist and pornographic film critic.[4]

She moved to Paris. In 2000, she directed her first film, Baise-moi, an adaptation of her own novel, it starred Coralie Trinh Thi, Karen Lancaume, and Raffaëla Anderson. Baise-moi is a contemporary example of a rape and revenge film, an exploitation films genre.[5]

Her novel Les Jolies choses was adapted for the screen in 2001 by Gilles Paquet-Brenner, with Marion Cotillard and Stomy Bugsy in the lead roles; the film was awarded the Michel d'Ornano prize at the 2001 Deauville American Film Festival.

From 2004 to 2005, she wrote a blog that documented her daily life. Around this time she began identifying as a lesbian and started to date Spanish philosopher Paul B. Preciado before he transitioned to male.[6]

In 2005, she wrote three songs for the album Va chercher la police for the group A.S. Dragon.

In 2006, she published a non-fiction work, King Kong Theory, it recounts her experiences in the French sex industry, and the infamy and praise she experienced for writing Baise-Moi.

In 2009 she directed her first documentary, Mutantes (Féminisme Porno Punk), which was broadcast on TV Pink.

In 2010, her novel Apocalypse bébé was awarded the Renaudot prize.

Bye Bye Blondie was adapted for film with Béatrice Dalle and Emmanuelle Béart.[7] Cecilia Backes and Salima Boutebal produced a stage adaptation of King Kong Theory during the "Outside" Festival d'Avignon.[8]

In 2011, her commentary on Dominique Strauss-Kahn appeared in The Guardian.[9]

The English translation of her novel Vernon Subutex 1 was shortlisted for the 2018 Man Booker International Prize[10]


Despentes won the 1998 Prix de Flore, and 1999 Prix Saint-Valentin for Les Jolies Choses; 2010 Prix Renaudot for Apocalypse Bébé.



  • Baise-moi. 1993; Grasset, 1999, ISBN 978-2-246-58711-8
  • Les Chiennes savantes. Éditions J'ai lu, 1997
  • Les Jolies choses. J'ai lu, 2008, ISBN 978-2-290-35012-6
    • Pretty Things, translated into English by Emma Ramadan, The Feminist Press at CUNY, 2018, ISBN 978-1936932276
  • 1999 - Mordre au travers.
  • Teen spirit. 2002, J'ai lu, 2004, ISBN 978-2-290-32987-0
  • 2002 - Trois étoiles.
  • Bye bye Blondie: roman, Grasset, 2004, ISBN 978-2-246-64891-8
  • King Kong théorie, Grasset, 2006
  • 2010 - Apocalypse Bébé.
  • King Kong Theory - translated into English (Feminist Press 2010)
  • Apocalypse Baby - translated into English (Feminist Press 2015)
  • 2015 Vernon Subutex: Volume 1 (published in English by MacLehose Press 2017, translated by Frank Wynne)
  • 2015 Vernon Subutex: Volume 2 (Éditions Grasset, published in English by MacLehose Press 2018, translated by Frank Wynne)
  • 2017 Vernon Subutex: Volume 3 (Éditions Grasset)
  • 2018 Pretty Things (Les Jolies Choses, Éditions Grasset,1998) published in English by The Feminist Press in a translated by Emma Ramadan


  • 1997 : « C'est dehors, c'est la nuit », recueil collectif Dix, Grasset / Les Inrockuptibles.
  • 1999 : Mordre au travers, recueil de nouvelles, Librio.
  • 2004 : « Toujours aussi pute », Revue Bordel, n°2, Flammarion.
  • 2004 : « Putain, je déteste le foot... », biography of Lemmy Kilmister of the group Motörhead, Rock & Folk, n°444.
  • 2004 : une nouvelle dans le recueil Des nouvelles du Prix de Flore, Flammarion.
  • 2009 : « I put a spell on you », Psychologies magazine, Hors série « Les Secrets de l'érotisme ».

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sh. A. Lemperlé, Comment prendre une autre forme : une étude sur la traduction anglais et la version cinématographique de "Baise-moi" de Virginie Despentes. Archived 2013-06-18 at the Wayback Machine [archive] - Mémoire de maîtrise, p. 1, Université du Montana, Missoula, mai 2011.
  2. ^ a et b S. Bourmeau, « Virginie Despentes : "Je sens bien que je viens d'ailleurs". [archive] », in Grazia, Paris, 11 juin 2015.
  3. ^ "Despentes abrupte! - L'EXPRESS". Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  4. ^ Marianne Costa. "Despentes : anarcho-féministe". Le Magazine.Info. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  5. ^ Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (2011). Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study. McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4961-3.
  6. ^ Oyler, Lauren (7 August 2015). "Behind the Scenes With Virginie Despentes". Broadly. Vice Media. Retrieved 20 September 2017.
  7. ^ Reportage: Julien RENSONNET; Montage: Gérard ROBAYE. "Manon des sources est devenue lesbienne: Emmanuelle Béa..." Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  8. ^ "" King Kong théorie ", de Virginie Despentes (critique de Fabrice Chêne), Off du Festival d'Avignon 2010, La Manufacture à Avignon" (in French). Les Trois Coups. 2010-11-07. Archived from the original on 2013-11-12. Retrieved 2013-11-12.
  9. ^ "Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the game only one side plays". The Guardian. 23 May 2011.
  10. ^ "Vernon Subutex 1 | The Man Booker Prizes". Retrieved 2018-08-17.

External links[edit]