Letter from Philippe Lançon

Letter by Philippe Lançon, Libération, 14/1/2015

Please click here for the article in French.

Dear friends of Charlie and Liberation,

All that remains now are three fingers, peeking out from under the bandages, a jaw covered in plaster, and a few minutes of energy beyond which my ticket will no longer be valid to tell you all my love and thank you for your support and your friendship. I wanted to say simply this: if there is one thing that this attack reminded me or rather taught me is the reason why I am a journalist at these two newspapers – for the love of freedom and solidarity, through writing or drawing cartoons[…]

I thought of this in the horribly silent minute that followed the departure of the black-legged assassins – I saw nothing more of them, lying where I was among my dead comrades, under the table in the conference room[…]

I was going to leave when the killers barged in. I was showing Cabu, a great fan of jazz, the splendid photo book by Francis Wolf on musicians playing at the Blue Note which I planned to review for Liberation. Of course, he already knew it.

While the ambulance crew raised me from the floor to a wheelchair, I took one last look at my dead companions, Bernard, Tignous, Cabu, as my rescuers stepped between their dead bodies. And suddenly, my God, I realized they would not laugh again. It is important that we all continue to laugh, to write, and to publish – we need to do this in memory of them, in the pages of Libération and Charlie, far away from the powerful ones and their excesses. It will take me some time and some therapy to be able to laugh again – it seems like the jaw is weaker than the heart – but I will do it, and I will do it with you, my colleagues, my companions, my readers and repeat readers, my friends.

Philippe LANÇON

“Juan Flores”, by Arcadio Díaz-Quiñones

We are indebted to Juan Flores’ teaching and mentoring, to his widely quoted books Divided Borders: Essays on Puerto Rican Identity (1992) or From Bomba to Hip-Hop: Puerto Rican Culture and Latino Identity (2000).  We owe much  to his untiring efforts, delving into archives, libraries and sound recordings, and into the vast storehouse of the memory of friends and collaborators. To read more, click here.

Philippe Lançon, PLAS Visting Fellow for AY15, Injured in the Paris Terrorist Attack

Philippe Lançon, a journalist specializing in Cuba and Latin America who is on staff at Libération, was gravely injured yesterday during the terrorist attack at Charlie Hebdo in Paris. Philippe was attending an editorial team meeting when the two gunmen broke into the room and opened fire. He is now in intensive care at a Paris hospital, where he is listed in critical but stable condition.

Philippe has been involved with PLAS since 2012. He has been a guest speaker at some of our courses, attended our events, and he was recently selected as a visiting fellow for next year. His plan was to spend the fall semester in Princeton, teaching a course on “Writers and Dictators in Latin America” and researching a new book on Cuba.

Philippe has reported extensively on Latin American culture and literature. He is one of the most serious critics of Latin American literature in Paris and he has published extensive interviews with many writers, including Jorge Edwards and Mario Vargas Llosa.

Recently, Philippe had been covering the developments in Cuba. His last published article is an interview with visual artist Tania Bruguera after she was detained in Havana. You can read his piece here:


As members of the Princeton community we should do everything we can to show our support for Philippe during these difficult moments. If you want to write him a note, a postcard, or a letter, please drop it off at the PLAS office and we will send it to him by express mail. If you prefer to use e-mail, you can address it to plas@princeton.edu; we will print it out and include it in the package.

I will post more news as soon as I can speak to Philippe, after he leaves the intensive care unit.