cover image The Ring

The Ring

Elisabeth Horem, trans. from the French by Jane Kuntz. Dalkey, $13 trade paper (136p) ISBN 978-1-56478-868-9

In her first English translation, French-Swiss novelist Horem delivers a brief, but surprising story with a decidedly capricious narrator. When Quentin's lover abandons him for his brother and prepares to leave for America, he improvises to save face, informing her he was also moving, to the fictional city of Tahas. To play the part he applies for a job there, but when he's hired what began as a ruse takes on greater meaning. He leaves Europe for the exotic Tahas and, meeting his own deflated expectations, lives a life of whimsy, preferring to stay home watching local television programs "of which he understood not a word, but which relaxed him for that very reason." The expatriate residents of Tahas lived secluded on The Ring, a neighborhood that formed "a perfect circle on the city map," initially a government constraint that eventually became a voluntary choice of the expatriate residents. Faced with his suddenly transient life in a new land, Quentin straddles the border between the Ring and the possible dangers of straying too far from familiar territory. Horem's artful prose depicts the silent yearning of a man willing to change but often paralyzed in the face of a mesmerizing, lonely world. (Apr.)