Nina Leger


April-June 2023

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© Editions Gallimard

  • Literature
  • Cities
  • San Francisco, Sacramento, Eugene, Oroville
“Just as in the 19th century when there was not as much gold as expected in the river, today, due to droughts and climate change, there is not enough water. It is as if the land itself revolts against its appropriation.”

I published my first novel in 2014. That same year, I began working on my PhD in art history, a subject that I currently teach alongside my novel-writing. Although I have always conducted these two activities separately, I am aware that my writing is influenced by my art background. I consider artworks to be narratives set in space. Likewise, the notion of space is a running theme throughout my writing.


Writing about places offers me a means to reflect on the viewpoints that enliven and enable our narratives, as well as restrict them. In my second novel, The Collection, I investigated the geography of Paris from a woman’s perspective. The goal here was to subvert the male gaze and play with the literary possibilities of a female gaze. In my most recent novel, I cast my attention towards Sophia Antipolis, a kind of contemporary city built from scratch on the French Riviera. The story sought to retrace its history, but also to unearth pre-existing histories erased by the site’s heroic founding narrative.


At Villa Albertine, I intend to continue my reflective practice, situating it within the complex territories of Northern California. Through researching Oroville and other cities, I hope to use my novel-writing to weave narratives of veiled pasts, weakened presents and uncertain futures.


Nina Leger is an author. Her 2017 novel, The Collection (Granta), first published in French by Gallimard under the title Mise en pièces, earned her the Prix Anaïs Nin and Prix Littéraire de la Vocation. More recently, Leger released Antipolis (Gallimard, 2021), a novel that follows the story of the Sophia Antipolis technology park. For her project at Villa Albertine, she will continue her reflective research on the ways in which places and their disputed histories are written. Alongside her writing, Leger teaches art history and theory at the Beaux-Arts de Marseille.  


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