Into the heart of the malevolent horde: SOLO VIOLA by Antoine Volodine, out now!

The actual book, out in the wild! This one belongs to my sister, who was kind and clever and preordered. Gorgeous cover by Michel Vrana, photographed by Maura Swope Batson.

Today! is the official publication date! of my translation! of Antoine Volodine’s book, Solo Viola! I am so excited! I might just have to use a lot of exclamation points!

More calmly, however: Over the past few years of working on the translation, this story has felt more and more relevant, closer and closer to the world that we currently inhabit. I am so glad that it’s finally coming out, now in 2021, here in the United States—a time and place where I think we can really read it and benefit from it. And, I hope, enjoy it.

The inestimable Brian Evenson says:

Antoine Volodine’s Solo Viola is a deft evisceration of fascism, seen through another lens and dislocated to a fantastical world. Volodine, here and elsewhere in his hugely important work, shows how the political and the fantastical can be intertwined in a way that allows a powerful reevaluation to occur—a reevaluation that feels all too starkly relevant to twenty-first-century America.

The Chicago Review of Books chose it among their “12 Must-Read Books for May“:

Antoine Volodine has been exploding the boundaries of fiction for decades in his native France; now University of Minnesota Press brings one of his most fascinating experiments to U.S. readers with this new translation of Solo Viola. Its vision of performers and prisoners held under the sway of an authoritarian buffoon echoes eerily with our tumultuous present.

And for Foreword Reviews, Ho Lin writes that:

Antoine Volodine’s superb post-exotic novel Solo Viola imagines a society that’s one step removed from reality. With a narrative spiced up by absurdity and a dead serious message, this is a brisk, engrossing, and phantasmagorical take on tyranny and curbed freedoms.

I am so grateful to all the people who helped make this book happen: to the editors at Univocal and the University of Minnesota Press, to fellow translators who offered feedback and advice, to the cover artist, because I really freaking love that cover, to Lionel Ruffel for his insightful introduction, and to Antoine Volodine, if that is his real name (hint: it’s not), for answering my étonnantes questions. And I’m looking forward to seeing how readers react to this odd, profound, and to the best of my abilities, beautiful work.

To purchase: You can order Solo Viola from your local independent bookstore, which would be awesome. You can order it straight from the University of Minnesota Press. You can request it from your library. If you like e-books, you can get this one on Kindle or Nook.

However you choose to read: thank you, and I hope you like it.

Cover Art! for Solo Viola

I’ve received an image of the cover art for Solo Viola, my translation of Antoine Volodine’s Alto Solo, which is forthcoming in January 2021. You guys, I like this cover a lot.

Really excellent work by the University of Minnesota Press design team.

What else is going on? Well, I’ve been translating a book of poetry by Maxime Coton, and some articles and essays by a variety of people, which are not for publication, or at least not yet. I’ve been writing some fiction—not a lot, unfortunately, but like many people, I have been caught in the deluge of news and events that we call 2020. Currently I’m trying to focus my attention away from things that induce feelings of anxiety and helplessness (i.e. the pandemic, the authoritarianism, police violence and wildfires and climate change and and and) and more towards things that are actually somewhat under my control—like my work and my writing—and things that make me feel good, like running and camping and paddling a canoe.

By the time this book comes out, in January May 2021, who knows what the world will look like? Not me. So for now let’s just enjoy this gorgeous cover art.

Out now: “Rena in the Desert” in Asimov’s (and a Mall of America adventure story)

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I’ve had work published before, and in print before, but never before have I had a story printed in a magazine that I could just go to a store and buy. So I’ve been pretty excited to see the March/April 2020 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine, which is not only printed (on paper!) and bound, but also available in book stores. Which book stores? Well, the Barnes and Noble at the Mall of America, for one, which I know because I often pick up a copy of Asimov’s to occupy me when I ride the train home from the bizarre and overwhelming behemoth of Bloomington. Oh, and why the March/April 2020 issue? Because it includes my story “Rena in the Desert.” Which happens to have arrived in newsstands today.

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my name is not on the cover but it’s inside, I promise

So I grabbed my husband and, well, first we went cross country skiing out at Whitetail Woods park. I am not very good at skiing but I’m getting better. Today I snowplowed victoriously down several small hills without falling or crying or even having more than a very mild heart attack. Birkebeiner here I come.

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your daily dose of Minnesota winter

Anyway, where was I—I grabbed my husband, went skiing, and then off we went to the Mall of America Barnes and Noble to see if the new Asimov’s was there. And it was! Here, Jeff very helpfully moved it to the front of the shelf so it would be easier for my legions of fans to find.

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only two left! going fast, obviously!

Look, a totally random man who happened to be reading my story, how coincidental!

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both handsome and literate!

And then this totally random man decided to buy two copies of the magazine!

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also: tall!

Okay, so yes, that’s Jeff. Anyway, we found the magazine, which does indeed have my story in it; we bought it, and then decided to celebrate with some bubbly at an adjacent hotel bar. Here is me drinking my nice glass of crémant de Limoux and gloating over my story in Asimov’s, at the Mall of America Marriott, of all places.

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at Cedar + Stone Urban Table, which, if you’re looking for a celebratory beverage at the Mall of America, is probably one of the better choices

If you, too, would like to read this story, you can also trek out to a bookstore, or I believe it’s possible to buy a single issue for iPad, Kindle, etc. from the usual places. The story is, I think, pretty good. As the title says, it’s about Rena, and she’s in the desert, and having some trouble getting across it. She stops at an AutoMotel and meets a little girl. Is it a trap? Maybe! Here’s the Author Q&A I wrote up for the Asimov’s blog, if you want to know more. Meantime, if you read the story, however you read it, I hope you enjoy it, as well as your celebratory beverages of choice.