A new collection of works by Jean Genet, one of the twentieth century’s most influential writers, including the first translation of one of his most important works.
Criminal Child offers the first English translation of a key early work by Jean Genet. In 1949, in the midst of a national debate about improving the French reform-school system, a French radio station commissioned Genet to write about his experience as a juvenile delinquent. He sent back a piece about his youth that was a paean to prison instead of the expected horrifying exposé. Revisiting the cruel hazing rituals that had accompanied his incarceration, relishing the special argot spoken behind bars, Genet wondered if regulating that strange other world wouldn’t simply prevent future children from discovering their essentially criminal nature in the way that he had. The radio station chose not to broadcast Genet’s views. “Criminal Child” appears here with a selection of Genet’s finest essays, including his celebrated piece on the art of Alberto Giacometti.