The Kites by Romain Gary review – when resistance began in the kitchen

The first English translation of the author’s work, a romance set during the second world war, is overdue but well worth the wait

It seems extraordinary that Romain Gary, the Frenchman and only novelist (not to mention aviator, film director and diplomat) to have won the Prix Goncourt twice, should be strolling into English so casually and late in the day – and yet this is, according to his publishers, the first English translation of his last novel, The Kites. He was a singular figure in French literature whose non-literary claims to fame include having been married to Jean Seberg. Penguin will shortly be bringing out a new translation of his outlandishly memorable autobiography about growing up as the only child of a questing Jewish mother but in the meantime, as an opening gambit, we have this novel Les cerfs-volantsThe Kites (first published in 1980, the same year ...