In this magisterial, exquisitely erudite novel, the insomniac meditations of the bedridden and lovelorn musicologist Franz Ritter take the reader on a vast, crisscrossing perambulation through the rich history of the commingling of Orient and Occident in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The New York Times

Winner of the Prix Goncourt and shortlisted for the Man Booker International Prize, Compass is an astounding novel that bridges Europe and the Islamic world

Available March 27, 2018

Compass

Fiction by

Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell

With a contribution by Mathias Énard

Your Independent Bookstore Barnes & Noble

Paperback (published March 27, 2018)

ISBN
9780811227476
Price US
18.95
Price CN
24.95
Trim Size
5 x 8
Page Count
448

Clothbound (published March 28, 2017)

ISBN
9780811226622
Price US
26.95
Price CN
35.95
Trim Size
5.8 x 8.3
Page Count
448

Ebook (published March 28, 2017)

ISBN
9780811226639

In this magisterial, exquisitely erudite novel, the insomniac meditations of the bedridden and lovelorn musicologist Franz Ritter take the reader on a vast, crisscrossing perambulation through the rich history of the commingling of Orient and Occident in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

The New York Times

[A] brilliant, elusive, outré love letter to Middle Eastern art and culture.

—Dustin Illingworth, Los Angeles Review of Books

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

Comparisons of Compass with The Thousand and One Nights and with Proust (and Ritter thinks about both) are not only inevitable, but necessary.

—Frank RIchardson, Numero Cinq

Richly written, baroquely observant, and so terrifyingly erudite in its dizzying display of knowledge that some readers might be overwhelmed, this propulsive work explores the meaning of the Orient and the Orientalist impulse in the West…

Library Journal

Compass, in its relentlessly discursive impressiveness, embodies an uncompromising vision of the novel as relatively static political and cultural essay.

The Guardian

For all its sandstorm of scholarship, translated with tireless eloquence by Charlotte Mandell, Compass aches with…simple yearning.

The Economist

Énard has written a masterful novel…

The Washington Post

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

In a time of fear and loathing, Énard’s magnum opus points us toward the reality behind so many myths of the Orient.

New Republic

[O]nce 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

Compass is a novel for, more than of, our times, often comic but ultimately deeply serious… Énard manages to make what is essentially this sleep-deprived protagonist’s monologue consistently entertaining—no wonder he can’t sleep, with all this bubbling in his mind…

—Michael Orthofer, Complete Reviews

This sad yet invigorating novel is both a love letter to a vanishing discipline and an elegy. Franz’s mental circumnavigations constitute a celebration of the civilizing power of knowledge and ‘the beauty of sharing and diversity.’

—Sam Sacks, Wall Street Journal

Compass is as challenging, brilliant, and—God help me—important a novel as is likely to be published this year.

—Justin Taylor, The Los Angeles Times

The cultural cross-pollination between east and west is explored in a tale that offers rare delights.

—Tobias Grey Financial Times

Compass is poetic, ironic, irresistible.

—Jane Ciabattari BBC

The true beauty of Compass is that a shadow is a shadow: like the opium inhaled it is undetectable, and unassuming. The past belongs to no one and is claimed by everyone, disturbing the movement of time.

—Yasmin Roshanian EuropeNow

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

A fever-dream meditation on East and West and a lost love that binds the two worlds… Lyrical and intellectually rich without ever being ponderous, reminiscent at turns of Mann’s Death in Venice and Bowles’ Sheltering Sky.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

This astonishing, encyclopedic, and otherwise outré meditation by Énard on the cultural intersection of East and West takes the form of an insomniac’s obsessive imaginings—dreams, memories, and desires—which come to embody the content of a life, or perhaps several…. [An] opium addict’s dream of a novel.

Publishers Weekly

Enard’s novel is a bottomless treasure chest of stories about European adventurers, archaeologists and explorers… One is tempted to start reading it all over again.

—Ulrich Von Schwerin, Qantara.de

Mathias Énard is the most brazen French writer since Houellebecq.

New Statesman

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