cover image Ravel


Jean Echenoz, , trans. from the French by Linda Coverdale. . New Press, $19.95 (126pp) ISBN 978-1-59558-115-0

Prix Goncourt–winner Echenoz's fifth novel to be translated into English covers the last 10 years in the life of French composer Maurice Ravel, who in 1927 was 52 years old and at the height of his fame when he toured America. Echenoz is most keen on recording the human detail: Ravel's impeccable ablutions and wardrobe, his dainty size, his reading of Joseph Conrad's The Arrow of Gold and his triumphant tour across the United States. Upon his return and at the request of a friend, Ravel offhandedly composed his masterpiece, Boléro . However, lapses begin to intrude in his memory and eventually debilitate him. After harrowing brain surgery, Ravel died in 1937. Like his well-mannered subject, Echenoz's prose is stylish and delightfully soft-pedaled, expertly conveyed by Coverdale—leaving the sensation of a life lived exclusively for the creation of art. (June)