News! Publications! and Manuela Draeger’s Kree

As I noted in my last post, things tend to happen all at once. The week before last, for example, I had one story published on March 30th and another one came out on the 31st. Wild times. Here are the details:

Better Get Hit in Your Soul” appeared on the Nature magazine website, as part of its Futures science fiction series. This is a short piece about a saxophonist forced to get back to basics. I’ve also included a short “behind the story” bit, in which I duly credit Charles Mingus, whose song title I brazenly stole.

Escape Pod was kind enough to produce a podcast version of “Rena in the Desert”, a story which appeared in Asimov’s in March/April 2020. Forever ago, right? It’s strange revisiting a story from before things really went sideways. Anyway, I enjoyed the reading by S. Kay Nash and the audio production by Summer Brooks (I didn’t really notice it so I think that means it’s good), and I’m grateful to Mur Lafferty for her thoughts.

Regarding that third publication—it looks like “Island History” is set to come out in the September/October 2022 issue of Asimov’s. Updates forthcoming.

Now, the big news: I have signed a contract with the University of Minnesota Press to translate the novel Kree by Manuela Draeger.

I just received the hard copy from Éditions de l’Olivier today and I plan to carry it around with me constantly for a year or so

For those not acquainted, Manuela Draeger is a member of the Antoine Volodine/Lutz Bassmann/et al. post-exoticism, er, collective, so to speak. Works previously translated into English include In the Time of the Blue Ball (tr. Brian Evenson) and Eleven Sooty Dreams (tr. J. T. Mahany), both of which I really enjoyed. Kree is a dark, violent, fascinating, and fun novel, and I am so excited I get to sink into it and eventually share it with everyone.

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.