Invaluable—a rigorously skeptical and a profoundly visionary poet, a writer whose demystifying intelligence is matched by a passionate embrace of poetry’s rejuvenating power.—John Palattella, The Boston Review on Susan Howe's Debths
Fiction by Mathias Énard
translated by Charlotte Mandell
As night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends a restless night drifting between dreams and memories, revisiting the important chapters of his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to Istanbul, Aleppo, Damascus, and Tehran, as well as the various writers, artists, musicians, academics, orientalists, and explorers who populate this vast dreamscape. At the center of these memories is his elusive love, Sarah, a fiercely intelligent French scholar caught in the intricate tension between Europe and the Middle East.
With exhilarating prose and sweeping erudition, Mathias Énard pulls astonishing elements from disparate sources—nineteenth-century composers and esoteric orientalists, Balzac and Agatha Christie—and binds them together in a most magical way.
On the shortlist for the 2017 International Man Booker Prize.
Fiction by César Aira
translated by Nick Caistor
The Little Buddhist Monk is a story of Asian invention gone wild, as a diminutive Korean Buddhist monk acts as a tour guide to an increasingly distraught French couple on a working vacation in the Far East.
The Proof brings us quickly back to the West, where two punks, plus a new recruit (“Wannafuck?”is the opening line as the two punk lesbians accost the chubby and shy Marcia on a quiet street in Buenos Aires), take control of a local supermarket with dire consequences for the hostages. These two fast-paced, edgy works are as different as night and day. Nevertheless—as well as sex, identity, and modern-day economics figuring deeply in both—deep currents connect the two novellas: our little Buddhist monk remarks, “I told you it was easy. When something is easy, it is completely easy. But no one believes it. Not even the proof convinces them.”
Fiction by Raymond Roussel
translated by Rupert Copeland Cunningham
The wealthy scientist Martial Canterel guides a group of visitors through his expansive estate, Locus Solus, where he displays his various deranged inventions: a machine propelled by the weather, which constructs a mosaic out of varying hues of human teeth; a hairless cat charged with a powerful electric battery; a bizarre theater in which corpses are reanimated with a special serum to enact the most important movements of their past lives. Wondrously imaginative and narrated with Roussel’s deadpan wit, Locus Solus is unlike anything else ever written.
Fiction by Osama Alomar
translated by Osama Alomar and C. J. Collins
Some of the teeth of the comb were envious of the class differences that exist between humans. They strived desperately to increase their height, and, when they succeeded, began to look with disdain on their colleagues below.
After a little while the comb’s owner felt a desire to comb his hair. But when he found the comb in this state he threw it in the garbage.
From Osama Alomar, a brilliant Syrian writer living in exile in Pittsburgh, come these wonderful stories populated by personified swords and snakes and swamps, wolves and zeroes and rainbows. In The Teeth of the Comb they aspire, they plot, they hope, they destroy, they fail. But they always animate new realities—and make us see our realities anew. Reading Alomar's sly moral fables and sharp political allegories, we sit up a little straighter and a little wiser.
Fiction by Nathaniel Mackey
Nathaniel Mackey’s Late Arcade opens in Los Angeles. A musician known only as N. writes the first of a series of letters to the enigmatic Angel of Dust. N. is part of a jazz sextet Molimo m’Atet, which has just rehearsed a new tune composed by fellow band member Djmilaa. Horn players Lambert and Penguin read a chapter from The Egyptian Book of the Dead with lips clothespinned shut as N. on the trumpet, Djamilaa on synthesizer, Aunt Nancy on bass, and Drennette on bongos and conga mingle with strut and struff in a cosmic hymn to the sun god Ra.
N.’s epistolary narration follows the musical goings-on of the ensemble as they play gigs around Los Angeles, as well as in Santa Cruz and Detroit. N. suffers from what he calls “cowrie shell attacks” and is possessed by a figure named Dredj, who turns into a conduit for dreams. Balloons appear as the musicians perform. One balloon materializes in bed betwen Dredj and Djamilaa, bearing a message of a late arcade, a mall with its roof blown off and music in Dredj's ear that keeps him wandering from booth to booth all night. The balloons follow Drennette home, and she and Penguin become bound by a deep secret. Is this what love's late arcade has to offer? Will it last longer than captured breath?