Alfred University News

Newest novel by alumnus Robert Littell ’56 reviewed in Parisian journal Le Figaro Littéraire

The most recent novel by Alfred University alumnus Robert Littell ’56, “La Peste Sur Vos Deux Familles” (“A Plague on Both Your Houses”), was reviewed by Etienne de Montety in Le Figaro Littéraire, a leading Parisian journal of culture and the arts.


The most recent novel by Alfred University alumnus Robert Littell ’56, “La Peste Sur Vos Deux Familles” (“A Plague on Both Your Houses”), was reviewed by Etienne de Montety in Le Figaro Littéraire, a leading Parisian journal of culture and the arts.

As the heading for Figaro’s review (“Roméo et Juliette dans l’Empire éclaté) notes, the novel, Littell’s 22nd, is a replay of Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet.” Published last month by Flammarion in Paris and translated into French from the original English, the book recounts the tale of a pair of star-crossed lovers transplanted from 16th-century Italy to 20th-century Russia.

The year is 1991. Boris Yeltsin has come to power, marking the start of the breakup of the Soviet Union. In Littell’s fictional telling, a young man called Roman—son of the Moscow mafia’s most ruthless godfather—falls in love with Yulia, daughter of his father’s sworn enemy.

Reviewer de Montety suggests that readers not necessarily look to the Alfred University alumnus for subtlety of style. But what they do find, he says, is a first-rate author “who knows his business, who follows in the footsteps of such noted craftsmen of political thrillers as Frederick Forsyth.” Littell, he adds, “is master of the genre; he tells a story at a rapid pace.”

As a modern-day tragedy of doomed lovers, de Montety writes, “La Peste Sur Vos Deux Familles” reminds us that “the wellsprings of the human heart do not change and that Littell’s great new novel of adventure provides convincing evidence of this.”

Robert Littell is an American living in France for the past 50 years. The English-language version of his newest book is expected to appear in the United States in 2023. Robert, who earned a bachelor’s degree in English, is the brother of Alfred University alumnus Alan Littell ’53.