French Celebrity: Daniel Pennac & The Belleville District in His Works

The Belleville district, situated above Ménilmontant in North-East Paris, is home to one of the two highest peaks in the city: the Belleville reservoir (129 metres). It is also the district of Daniel Pennac.

Daniel Pennacchioni, known as Daniel Pennac, born the 1st December 1944 in Casablanca, Morocco, is a French writer. He was the winner of the Renaudot award for his autobiographical novel Chagrin d’école. He has also written screenplays for cinema, television and comic books.

During his childhood, he lived in many countries throughout Africa and Asia, as his family followed his father, an army officer. This period gave him a notable thirst for cultural variety, which would later be present in his works. He has held several job positions, being a teacher before dedicating his time entirely to literature. He has written many books for children, such as Cabot-Caboche, his most famous work, released in 1982.

Daniel Pennac is nevertheless best known for the Malaussène Saga. This series tells of the crazy adventures of an outrageous family, who live in the Belleville district in Paris, an area that Pennac know very well, as he has lived there since the seventies. In his novels, we come across the names of streets, certain areas of the district and, most noticeably, its particular atmosphere and its great mixture of cultures, as many immigrants have often inhabited Belleville.

The Belleville Saga started in 1985 with the publication of the novel Au Bonheur des Ogres and the series comprises seven books. We follow the delightful adventures of Benjamin Malaussène, “scapegoat” by trade, along with his numerous brothers and sisters, his friends, his mother and, of course, his dog, Julius, as the chaos of their lives unravels at the heart of this famous district.

A true Parisian Saga.