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NPR Arts & Life

New French Book Is One 27 Years In The Making

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

One of the best-selling books in France this holiday season is by a man who begged on the streets of Paris for 27 years - Jean-Marie Roughol's "My Life As A Panhandler." The book began when he offered to look after the bicycle of Jean-Louis Debre, a former French interior minister, who found himself moved by the strategies his new friend said he had to use to survive on the streets and encouraged him to write about his life. As Debre says in the book's preface, he struggled a lot to live simply. The book is popular but royalties don't begin to reach Jean-Marie Roughol for another 10 months. So with little money he's earned so far, he's bought a smartphone so he can communicate with people who have read his book and now root for him. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.