8 November 11 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This was actually announced a couple days ago, but I just received an email from French publisher P.O.L. celebrating the awarding of the Prix Renaudot to Emmanuel Carrère for his new novel Limonov.

Limonov is not a fictional character. He exists. I know him. He was a lout in Ukraine; an idol of the Soviet underground under Brezhnev; a tramp, then a manservant to a millionaire in Manhattan; a trendy writer in Paris; a soldier lost in the wars of the Balkans; and now, in the immense chaos of Russian post-communism, an old charismatic chef of a party of young desperados. He sees himself as a hero, it’s possible to consider him as a bastard: I’ll reserve my judgment.

His life is adventurous and ambiguous: a true novel. And I believe his life tells us something. Not only about himself, Limonov, not only about Russia, but about the history of us all after the Second World War.

This is how Emmanuel Carrère describes his last novel. What he doesn’t say is to what extent he has succeeded in creating a breathtaking contemporary epic novel from this extraordinary life, to be read without stopping in great exaltation. Most certainly because his knowledge of the subject is complete, his inquiry was thorough, having read all of Limonov’s books, of course, and what has been written about him, meeting him himself, and all the witnesses it was possible to contact, but especially because his talent as a narrator is immense, and that he masterly rendered not only the character’s complexity, but also that of his country and his time.

This sounds fantastic, and like a great follow up to Lives Other than My Own, which came out earlier this year, and which we featured on Read This Next. FSG already bought the rights to this new book, although there’s no info available about when it will be available in English translation.

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Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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