cover image Wind Drinkers

Wind Drinkers

Franck Bouysse, trans. from the French by Chris Clarke. Other Press, $18.99 trade paper (400p) ISBN 978-1-63542-172-9

By turns sensual, grim, and melancholy, this lyrical and meandering novel from Bouysse (Born of No Woman) follows the fortunes of four adult siblings—Mathew, Mark, Luke, and Mabel Volny—in the Black Rimstone valley. The town that’s grown up in the valley is owned by a man known only as Joyce, who rules the place via guards, spies, and a paid-for lawman, which gives the entire work a vaguely western feel. The book opens with a body found floating in the local river, but then cuts away to a florid account of the lives of the various members of the Volny clan. Only halfway through does Matthew kill two of Joyce’s bullies to keep them from using grenades to kill fish in the river, but the crime element remains secondary to family dynamics and philosophical musings (observing his daughter, one character comes to understand “that without poetry, the world is nothing but constraints; that with it, it grows to become a limitless universe”). Conversations can be hard to follow, as it’s seldom clear who’s speaking—the lack of quotation marks doesn’t help. Those expecting a conventional mystery will have to seek elsewhere. Agent: Albin Michel, Solène Chabanais (France). (Jan.)