The Festival of New French Writing is happening at NYU’s law school this weekend. On Thursday E.L. Doctorow and Olivier Rolin were in a conversation moderated by Benjamin Anastas. Anastas was filling in for Sam Tanenhaus, who no-showed the event. And though he tried to control the discussion, he couldn’t do much as an unprepared replacement to adapt to Doctorow’s palpable disgust with the topic of politics in writing. Rolin took his questions with good humor, but it would have been best if he could have redirected the discussion. Unfortunately, for the audience, he didn’t.