The Belly of Paris


Émile Zola (1840-1902)

Émile Zola was born in Paris in 1840, the son of a Venetian engineer and his French wife. He grew up in Aix-en-Provence where he made friends with Paul Cézanne. After an undistinguished school career and a brief period of dire poverty in Paris, Zola joined the newly founded publishing firm of Hachette before embarking in 1871 on the creation of his Rougon-Macquart series.

Rougon-Macquart is a staggering achievement: a cycle of 20 novels  about the influence of heredity and environment on several generations  of a fragmented family in the Second Empire of Napoleon III. Only with  the publication of the seventh novel L’Assommoir, a study of alcoholism in the working classes, did Zola win wealth and fame. The last volume of the Rougon-Macquart series appeared in 1893.

Zola died of carbon monoxide poisoning in 1902 after accusing the  French military of antisemitism in the trial of Alfred Dreyfus. Foul play was never proven.


Ian Sklarsky, illustrator

Blind contour artist Ian Sklarsky creates his ink and watercolor  drawings with a single continuous line, never taking his eyes off the  subject. He has developed an adult coloring book for Yotel and demoed for TED audiences. His 1,000+ portraits include commissions from the Oslo Freedom Forum.


Tim Campbell

A classically trained opera singer and stage actor, Tim Campbell is the voice of multiple USA Today and New York Times  bestselling authors and series. He has narrated nearly 150 titles for Audible Studios, Harper Collins, Recorded Books, and others. He performs  regularly with the Fresno Grand Opera, Pacific Opera Project, Los  Angeles Master Chorale, and the Los Angeles Opera Chorus.

Slideshow of Zola set to Mozart's "Non più andrai" (The Marriage of Figaro)

Key features

Original illustrations by Ian Sklarsky

Images by Cézanne, Manet, Robert Doisneau, and Charles Marville

Historical map and dramatis personae to track characters

Pop-up footnotes


Orson publication date: 2017

File size: 427 MB

Original publication date: 1873

Translation publication date: 2007

Translation publisher: Oxford University Press

Translation: Brian Nelson

Editor: Benjamin Morse