Mathias Énard: © Marc Melki

Mathias Énard

Mathias Énard is the author of Compass (winner of the Prix Goncourt, the Leipzig Prize, and the Premio von Rezzori, and shortlisted for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize), Zone, and Street of Thieves–as well as being a translator from Persian and Arabic.

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants

Fiction by Mathias Énard

Translated by Charlotte Mandell

In 1506, Michelangelo—a young but already renowned sculptor—is invited by the sultan of Constantinople to design a bridge over the Golden Horn. The sultan has offered, along with an enormous payment, the promise of immortality, since Leonardo da Vinci’s design was rejected: “You will surpass him in glory if you accept, for you will succeed where he has failed, and you will give the world a monument without equal.” Michelangelo, after some hesitation, flees Rome and an irritated Pope Julius II—whose commission he leaves unfinished—and arrives in Constantinople for this truly epic project.…
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Compass

Fiction by Mathias Énard

Translated by Charlotte Mandell

With a contribution by Mathias Énard

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.…
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Énard’s prose, which tends to pile descriptive clauses ever higher on top of one another…can be mesmerizing. But it’s the larger project of his writing that bears particular consideration: in his fiction, Énard is constructing an intricate, history-rich vision of a persistently misunderstood part of the world.
The New Yorker
All of Énard's books share the hope of transposing prose into the empyrean of pure sound, where words can never correspond to stable meanings. He's the composer of a discomposing age.
—Joshua Cohen, New York Times Book Review
If all you have is a bridge, then everything begins to look like a chasm; the incessant drive to overcome all differences has, unsurprisingly, created more division. Énard’s radical suggestion has been, instead, to think about who is being connected to whom, and what is being bypassed along the way.
—Denis Zhou, Art in America
Necessary — no one writes like Mathias Énard.
—Francine Prose
It’s with no small amount of urgency that Mathias Énard’s Compass, an engrossing meditation on the cultural and historical tension between Europe and the Islamic world, arrives from New Directions in a gorgeous translation by Charlotte Mandell.
—Hal Hlavinka, Quarterly Conversation
His most far-reaching and accomplished book and one of the finest European novels in recent memory.
—Adrian Nathan West, Literary Review
Once Énard’s immersive prose gets a grip on you, there’s no turning back.
—Ron Slate
[Énard's] imagination is indeed a wonder to behold.
The Irish Times
A novelist like Énard feels particularly necessary right now, though to say this may actually be to undersell his work. He is not a polemicist but an artist, one whose novels will always have something to say to us. If that doctored replica of Beethoven’s compass stands as a fitting emblem of Ritter’s work, a better one for Énard’s would be the compass that can be found in hotel rooms throughout the Islamic world, so that travelers can orient themselves for prayer …
Harper's Magazine
Mathias Énard has found a way to restore death to life and life to death, and so joins the first rank of novelists, the bringers of fire, who even as they can't go on, do.
—Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions
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