cover image Happy Are the Happy

Happy Are the Happy

Yasmina Reza, trans. from the French by John Cullen. Other Press, $20 (160p) ISBN 978-1-59051-692-8

Playwright and author Reza’s newest book is a fragmented novella of vignettes, all of which function as independent short stories. Reza follows more than a dozen characters struggling with marriage and loneliness—opening with “Robert Toscano,” a hilarious study of patience and insistence revolving around a married couple in France, the Toscanos, who get into an escalating argument over cheese (he doesn’t buy the kind she likes). Reza’s askew humor pervades the book—four chapters later, we find out that the seemingly perfect Hunter family (bitterly envied by the Toscanos) has a secret: the son is not interning abroad, he is in a mental institution because he believes he is Celine Dion. Reza’s vignettes are also dark (a man’s incestuous relationship with his brother later turns him into a sexual masochist) and sardonic (a man accuses his wife of wanting to be buried together for social reasons: “My wife is counting on the grave to outfox spiteful gossips, she wants to remain a petit bourgeois even in death”). Reza’s stories build and build, creating a complicated, multifaceted world—a world that is unmistakably Reza’s. (Jan.)