Nathalie Azoulai
© Philippe Matsas / Stock

Nathalie Azoulai

  • Japon
From 28 December 2020 to 28 December 2021
Nathalie Azoulai is a Villa Kujoyama 2020 residency programme laureate (residency postponed due to the health context).


Nathalie Azoulai is a novelist. She is the author of eight novels and a play that will be produced in 2021. She is the winner of the 2015 prix Médicis award for Titus n’aimait pas Bérénice (éditions Pol). She also writes for young adults and the radio.

After having studied at the École normale supérieure and been awarded an agrégation teaching diploma for French language and literature, she started by teaching before going into publishing where she held several positions in various publishing houses. In parallel she started writing, and published her first novel in 2002: Mère agitée.

Her second novel, C’est l’histoire d’une femme qui a un frère, was published in 2004. In 2005 she published, Les Manifestations. On returning to France in 2006 having spent several years in Spain, she wrote Une ardeur insensée that was published in 2009. The following year, she wrote a sequel to Mère agitée with Les Filles ont grandi. She worked with several directors and co-wrote with Jean-Xavier de Lestrade the script of Parcours meurtrier d’une mère ordinaire : l’affaire Courjault, on the Courjault freezer baby affair, broadcast by Arte in 2009.

Residency Project


This story will weave together the words of two people, a mother and her daughter; it will intertwine the departure of a prodigal daughter and her return to the bedside of a mother who is dying, the ins and outs of a misery and of leaving the nest. It will unwind the blunt and impossible dialogue between a daughter who leaves and a mother who stays, then a mother who leaves and a daughter who stays. There will be a matter of affection, transmission, lack of understanding; freedom and desertion; surprises that education have in store, prevented projections, renouncement and solitude.

All along, Japan will keep time, representing the metrics of attachment and detachment. It will be a broken up tale, a patchwork of stories, dialogues and images, the intimate cartography of a syncopated filial connection in the irregularity of Japan.

It will also be the means to make the experience of absolute pathos and contain it, by blending the lyrism of feelings of extreme modesty characterised by Ozu’s film-making, whether you are familiar with it or not. To the text to include it and make a sous-entendu of it that sets the tempo.