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.

Translations: Forthcoming! Upcoming! and More!

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A quick rundown of my current translation work:

Forthcoming! Over the past year I’ve been working on a translation of Georges Didi-Huberman‘s Survivance des lucioles, and it is done! At least, my part of the work (translating, revising, going through copy edits, and proofreading) is done. Here’s part of the description of the book:

Through his readings of Dante, Pasolini, Walter Benjamin, and others, Georges Didi-Huberman seeks again to understand this strange, minor light, the signals of small beings in search of love […] Their flickering presence serves as a counterforce to the blinding sovereign power that Giorgio Agamben calls The Kingdom and the Glory, that artificial brilliance that once surrounded dictators and today emanates from every screen. In this timely reflection, much needed in our time of excessive light, Didi-Huberman’s Survival of the Fireflies offers a humble yet powerful image of individual hope and desire: the firefly-image.

The result, Survival of the Fireflies, will be available in September. You could even pre-order it on Amazon if you want.

Also in September, also Didi-Huberman: “Light Against Light,” my translation of “Lumière contre lumière,” will appear in Alienocene, the online “Journal of the First Outernational,” edited by Frédéric Neyrat. This essay builds on the discussion of light in Survival of the Fireflies in consideration of an art exhibit (titled “La Disparition des lucioles”) at the Prison Sainte-Anne in Avignon.

Upcoming! I have just signed a contract with the University of Minnesota Press to translate Antoine Volodine’s novella, Alto Solo, which might, tentatively, be called Solo Viola in English. If you’re not familiar with Volodine, he’s a fascinating writer who uses several pseudonyms (Volodine is one of them) and works in a somewhat speculative genre he has called “post-exoticism.” Here’s an interview to serve as an introduction and his Goodreads page, which lists both works in French and translated into English.

More! Through some fun internet connections, I had the good fortune to translate a poem by Maxime Coton, winner of the 2018 Robert Goffin prize. Paula Kehoe reads the poem “Along the Night’s Way” (translation of “Du côté de la nuit”) in the video below.

ALONG THE NIGHT’S WAY – Maxime Coton – poem from Bruits asbl on Vimeo.

Some future poetic collaborations are in the works, I’m pleased to say.

Non-verbal projects:

It’s summer, so obviously (or at least if you ever see my Instagram it’s obvious) I’m gardening. Here’s what I work on when I run out of words:

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The front flower garden! Blooming: coral bells, columbine, gas plant, bee balm, peony.

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Roots & Leaves garden: potatoes, radishes, beets, cabbage, lettuces, herbs.

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Spring-to-Summer Garden: peas, lettuces, radishes, which will make room for the tomatoes and peppers as they get bigger. Also herbs, carrots, tons of volunteer calendula, and a columbine that decided to move in there just for fun.

So there, you see I have a ton of work to do. Plus my dissertation. Let’s not talk about my dissertation.