Latest Review: "Writers" by Antoine Volodine

The latest addition. to our Reviews section is a piece by P. T. Smith on Antoine Volodine’s Writers, translated by Katina Rogers and published earlier this year by Dalkey Archive Press.

For those who don’t know, it was announced this week that Volodine had been awarded the Prix Médicis for his latest book, Terminus radieux. The prize, which is awarded in November of each year, is a French literary award founded in 1958 by Gala Barbisan and Jean-Pierre Giraudoux. Congratulations to Volodine, whose works have been translated into English and published (or are forthcoming) by various presses, including University of Nebraska Press, Dalkey Archive, and Open Letter Books.

Here’s the beginning of Patrick’s review:

Antoine Volodine’s vast project (40 plus novels) of what he calls the post-exotic remains mostly untranslated, so for many of us, understanding it remains touched with mystery, whispers from those “who know,” and guesswork. That’s not to say that, were one to read every book by Volodine and his pseudonyms, his driving philosophy would then become fully clear. It may not be meant to.

His novels return to the post-apocalypse, to prisons, psychiatric hospitals, interrogations, and writers. They trod familiar ground, the same characters reappear, and images are like memories half-remembered. The writers he creates not only belong in his universe, but create their own projects that fit within his—it’s turtles all the way down. Yet in the reoccurrence, there is nuance, and his universe expands—the other reality of the post-exotic becomes more grounded.

The Volodine project, the pseudonyms, and the intertexual exchanges, are pushed to the forefront in responses to his work. But there are also more immediate pleasures, not dependant on his larger oeuvre. His work puts anonymous people in strange and engaging circumstances, and he lets the weirdness leave a reader to catch up, confused.

For the rest of the review, go here.

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