A new book by a celebrated playwright who observed Nicolas Sarkozy up close over a period of eight months portrays the French president as "vain and self-absorbed," the Financial Times of London reported Saturday.[1]  --  The book — L'Aube le soir ou la nuit by Yasmina Reza, the author of Art — has created a "media frenzy" and is certain to become a bestseller in France, Pan Kwan Yuk said.  --  "The book is unlikely to help the media-savvy president's carefully sculpted image.  Earlier this week there was an uproar in the French press after it was revealed that a popular magazine owned by a close friend of Mr. Sarkozy had retouched a photograph taken of him to make his waist look thinner."  --  Since Sarkozy cultivates an Everyman persona, however, the book is not likely to do him much harm, either....

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SELF-ABSORBED SARKOZY REVEALED BY EMBEDDED CELEBRITY AUTHOR

By Pan Kwan Yuk

Financial Times (London)
August 25, 2007

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/d8a6561a-52a3-11dc-a7ab-0000779fd2ac.html

PARIS -- Love him or hate him, there is no denying France's fascination with Nicolas Sarkozy.

Barely a week goes by without the hyperactive 52-year-old president being on the cover of at least one big weekly magazine. This year he has been the subject of about 30 books.

Little surprise then that a new book by one of France's most celebrated playwrights on Mr. Sarkozy's march to the Elysée has become the publishing event of the year in France.

Released yesterday, Yasmina Reza's L'Aube le soir ou la nuit ('Dawn Evening or Night') is a character study based on close access to the French president over an eight-month period.

From the start of his presidential campaign last September to his election victory in May, Ms. Reza, best known for her play *Art*, was alongside Mr. Sarkozy all the way.

Her access to the French president is the stuff that journalists could only dream about. From watching him draft speeches to sitting in on his private meetings, her book is an intimate behind-the-scenes account of Mr. Sarkozy's pursuit of the presidency. But if the book has stirred a media frenzy -- and it has -- it is perhaps because Ms. Reza pulls no punches in the way she portrays her subject.

Mr. Sarkozy, who has been derided by the arts world as anti-intellectual and tacky, emerges as vain and self-absorbed.

In one scene, Ms. Reza recalled how Mr. Sarkozy picked up a copy of Le Figaro, visibly gripped byan article on the front page. But it was not the story on Iran or the French election that grabbed his attention; it was an advertisement for Rolex.

"That Rolex is gorgeous," he said.

The book is unlikely to help the media-savvy president's carefully sculpted image. Earlier this week there was an uproar in the French press after it was revealed that a popular magazine owned by a close friend of Mr. Sarkozy had retouched a photograph taken of him to make his waist look thinner.

Mr. Sarkozy's office denied yesterday that it had asked the magazine to fiddle with the photos, but the damage was already done.

Nonetheless, that has not stopped the French from being interested in all things Sarkozy. "I hate Sarkozy and this book confirms how superficial he is," said Dominique Lebut, a 52-year-old accountant, when asked why she was flipping through the book.

With a first print run of 100,000 copies, Ms. Reza's 190-page book is tipped to become an autumn bestseller.

FNAC, the book and media retailer, said exact sales figures were not available given that it only went on sale yesterday. However, a spokesperson said anecdotal evidence suggested sales were "very strong."

Philippe Aubier, owner of Libraire Fontaine, a small independent bookstore in the 8th arrondissement, said 30 copies, or a fourth of his stock, were sold before mid-afternoon.