The mechanics of Mona Chollet’s success

By Valentine Faure

Posted today at 1:21 a.m., updated at 5:35 a.m.

Many women but also a few men, mostly students, in their thirties… They are around 300, this Friday, September 24, to come and listen to Mona Chollet at Sciences Po Lille. Screens have been installed in another room for those who have not found a place in the amphitheater. This is the first event she has offered since the release, on September 16, of her essay Reinventing love – How the patriarchy sabotages heterosexual relationships, published by Zones. A highly anticipated work since the success, in 2018, of Witches. The undefeated power of women, bestseller sold 270,000 copies and translated into 15 languages.

In a kind of giant version of discussion between girlfriends, one of which would be particularly wise, it is about a couple tonight. The tone is benevolent, the conversation seems immemorial, barely reconfigured by the words of the time – domination, patriarchy, #metoo, social norms. At the end of the meeting, passing in front of a young girl who explains that she loves this feminist because she is not “Against men”, Mona Chollet discreetly escapes, leaving the discussions behind her to animate.

Mona Chollet, at home, in Paris, November 3, 2021.

If the essayist lends himself kindly to the game, promotion is not his favorite exercise. Mona Chollet writes from among the timid, the home-loving, the discreet. This is how she met her immense audience. Such a success logically placed it in the “phenomenon” category. The “Guru of contemporary French feminists”, said journalist Lauren Bastide about her, who received her in her podcast “La Poudre” on October 11, 2018. Actress Camille Cottin or singer Apple cite her as a reference.

Unsurprisingly, in two months, Reinventing love reached 70,000 copies sold. During a signature at Le Divan bookstore, in Paris, on 1is October, readers had to be drawn by lot to limit dedications. Despite a promotional program confined to a few media (The Obs, Liberation, Télérama, Elle, “La Grande Librairie”…) and no more than four signatures in bookstores, it has “Very close to burn-out”. At the same time as the release of her book, she had to proofread the English translation of Witches, which will appear in the United States in March 2022. A few hours before our interview, on October 18, she posted a “service message” on Twitter, to announce that she is stopping all promotion. She has just asked her employer for a new leave, The diplomatic world, where she works as editor. To breathe, therefore, and to allow a new project to mature, still in the state “Intuition”.

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The mechanics of Mona Chollet’s success

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