cover image Mevlido’s Dreams

Mevlido’s Dreams

Antoine Volodine, trans. from the French by Gina M. Stamm. Woodhall, $22.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-5179-1714-2

This seething, sweltering postapocalyptic novel from Volodine (Black Village) follows the eponymous character as he navigates life as a double agent for both the corrupt state apparatus and the denizens of Henhouse Four, an underclass ghetto monitored by the government for possible revolutionary activity. Still mourning the death of his wife, Verena, 20 years prior, Mevlido stumbles upon a young woman who looks exactly like her—only to watch the doppelgänger, a possible terrorist, get her head crushed beneath the wheels of a tram. As he struggles to make sense of what he saw, Mevlido must hide his investigation from his autocratic superiors, and reality itself unravels as he attempts to reconcile the past, the future, and the completely impossible present. Translator Stamm does an admirable job of rendering Volodine’s serpentine prose in English, and the noirish, surrealist story turns into an unlikely romp as it riffs on the absurdity of 20th-century political institutions and pop culture. The cumulative effect is frequently baffling but never dull. (June)