Danielle Collobert, trans. from the French by Nathanael. Litmus (SPD, dist.), $18 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-933959-17-7
A haunting and dense text that occupies a liminal space between short story and prose poem, Collobert's first novel, originally published in 1964, is presented here in a stunning and precise translation by Nathanaƫl. Though the scenes created by Collobert are seemingly placeless, the characters nameless, the action mundane and without motive, the legacy of World War II and the reality of the Algerian War loom heavily over her prose. In one section, the narrator stalks her doppelganger, an old Holocaust survivor. Elsewhere, the reader is witness to a murder of crabs, men petrified by quarry dust, and a woman who compulsively carves her name into walls with her fingernails. Through her depictions of habitual and indifferent violence, Collobert has crafted a uniquely political work, writing towards the end of the book, "One does not die alone, one is killed, by routine, by impossibility, following their inspiration. If all this time, I have spoken of murder, sometimes half camouflaged, it's because of that, that way of killing." While Collobert may baffle or frustrate those who expect a traditional novel, any reader interested in experimental fiction and poetry will find this a challenging but captivating text. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/29/2013
Release date: 04/01/2013
Genre: Fiction
Discover what to read next