October 29, 2014 13:06
France's Korean-born Culture Minister Fleur Pellerin recently found herself in hot water when she admitted she has no time to read books. In a nation that has just won another Nobel Prize for literature, that is seen as a serious shortcoming.
Pellerin made the gaffe on a TV program on Sunday when asked which novel by Nobel laureate Patrick Modiano she likes best. Pellerin, who had just spoken about an enjoyable lunch with Modiano, was momentarily lost.
"I haven't had time to read anything in the last two years except for a lot of notes, legislative texts and news wires," she admitted at last.
Pellerin is a career politician who graduated from the prestigious École nationale d'administration. She was made a deputy minister for small and medium-size businesses and digital economy when François Hollande became president of France and promoted to culture minister in an August reshuffle.
Pellerin's admission has led to heated debate. Prominent critic Claude Askolovitch, called on her to resign because she made literature sound like something trivial, saying reading is a very important part of a culture minister's job.
But she also has her defenders. "If she said she reads novels in the evening, people would have criticized her for not working but reading for pleasure," one tweet said.
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