Bernard Quiriny in Bengal Lights

May 1st, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink


Bengal Lights, in its latest issue (Autumn 2014), features an excerpt from Bernard Quiriny’s satire “Black Tides,” the fifth story I’ve published from his multi-prizewinning 2008 collection Contes carnivores.

Bengal Lights is a literary journal out of Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Our tastes are cosmopolitan: no location, no writer, no genre is off-limits. we welcome all writers: established or beginning, grizzled veterans or fresh-faced newbies, versed in the classics or cyber-narratives. we also seek to publish quality writing from bangladesh and south asia, but above all we seek to be engaged, to be a bazaar where all genres can mingle and multiply.

We seek writing that reflects the spirit and diverse voices of bangladesh and the rest of south asia. we also want expressive writing from the wider world beyond it. we are searching for fresh voices and new talent. we seek to forge literary connections between bangladesh and the wider world.

Here’s an excerpt:

The lights went down, and the first image was projected onscreen. It showed smoke shot from a helicopter: a gigantic black mushroom, quite alarming. After that we saw the oil tanker in different stages of sinking, then the massive flood that escaped its tanks and spread over the ocean. The club members waxed ecstatic like art lovers before a stormy sky by El Greco. Philippe narrated his photos, recounting his feelings on beholding such scenes of desolation. Next came the photos taken from the coast, when the sheet of bunker fuel hit shore. If the aerial shots were still bearable for being relatively abstract, these were so repulsive as to turn one’s stomach: petroleum patties stuck to the rocks like sooty buboes, birds bogged down to their beaks, natives pathetically trying to gather the spill with rakes, and even a lost little boy, his feet in fuel oil, a gluey patty he gazed at disgustedly in his hand, not knowing whether to hurl it far away or hang on to it so as not to add to the general desolation. It was appalling. Gould came and sat down beside me, murmuring a gentle reprimand: “Remember, morality has no place here! The disaster has already happened; it’s not our fault, nor is it within our power to repair. So check your guilt at the door.” I tried as best I could to suppress my nausea; all around me, the club members were purring with pleasure. It was very strange: the sight of oil-covered animals, soiled beaches, and lichens sopping with petroleum aroused in them the same kind of reaction that pornographic pictures did in the average person. These lovers of black tides weren’t just perverts: they were in fact connoisseurs of a special kind of obscenity, akin to refined erotomaniacs whose tastes run only to sophisticated depravities.

Belgian Bernard Quiriny (1978 – ) is the author of three short story collections: L’Angoisse de la première ligne (Phébus, 2005), which won the Prix Littéraire de la Vocation; Contes carnivores (Seuil, 2008), which won Prix du Style, the Prix Marcel Thiry for fabulism, and Belgium’s top literary prize, the Prix Rossel; and Une collection très particulière (Seuil, 2012), which won the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire. He has also written two novels: Les assoiffés (Seuil, 2010), a satirical dystopian alternate history of Belgium as a feminist totalitarian state, and most recently Le village évanoui (Flammarion, 2014), as well as a biography of symbolist poet Henri de Régnier, Monsieur Spleen (Seuil, 2013). His work has appeared in English in Subtropics, World Literature Today, The Coffin Factory, Weird Fiction Review, and Dalkey Archive’s Best European Fiction 2012.

Whim of the Gods at Words Without Borders

May 3rd, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink


Penned by Patrick de St. Exupéry’s (Antoine’s son), a career foreign correspondent, the very graphic 2014 graphic novel Whim of the Gods blends fact and memory as he revisits Rwanda on the anniversary of the genocide he witnessed there twenty years ago, in 1994. Artist Hippolyte’s sensitive watercolors provide a heartbreaking counterpoint to the human devastation. Read an excerpt at Words Without Borders.

Jean-Philippe Toussaint at Gulf Coast Online

May 5th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Gulf Coast logo

Jean-Philippe Toussaint’s brief essay “For Samuel Beckett” is available online as a complement to Gulf Coast‘s Winter 2015 issue. Here’s an excerpt:

In the early ’80s, I wrote Samuel Beckett a letter. I explained that I was trying to write, adding that he was probably often sought out by strangers, and so rather than asking him to read my work, suggested instead we play a game of correspondence chess with, at stake, a play I’d written. If I won, he’d read it and give me his opinion. If he won, I’d read over my own play at my leisure. I closed my letter with these words: “Just in case, 1. e4.” By return post, Samuel Beckett replied, “Black resigns. Send the play. Sincerely. Samuel Beckett.”

JEAN-PHILIPPE TOUSSAINT (1957 Р) is a Belgian writer and filmmaker whose books have been translated into more than twenty languages. The author of nine novels, he is the winner of numerous literary prizes, including the Prix M̩dicis in 2005 for his novel Running Away, and the Prix D̩cembre in 2009 for The Truth about Marie, the two middle books of the Marie tetralogy. These essays are taken from the collection Urgency and Patience, forthcoming next spring from Dalkey Archive Press.


Xavier Mauméjean at Words Without Borders

May 7th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink


I hope to translate more of Xavier Mauméjean, the current reigning French master of the reimagined or “alternate” history, that SF subgenre. In January, he contributed “Cinépanorama” to Words Without Borders’ theme issue on alternate histories, guest edited by Gabriel Saxton-Ruiz. It seeks to answer the question: what if Alain Delon lost an eye during military service in Indochina and never became a movie star? Here’s an excerpt:

In your hotel room on Boulevard Rochechouart, you flip through the magazines. One photo at a time, so your eye won’t get tired. It takes you until late in the night. There’s no such thing as an innocent gaze. So you slip on your trenchcoat, headed for Pigalle. Smuggled cigarettes, gold-plated bracelets fallen from a truck, junk you pawn off on the gigolos just to seem in the know. Not that you’re diving into any fishy-smelling sidelines—the only thing you want to smell is Romy Schneider’s perfume. Pretty girl. You could’ve had her. A quick double espresso at the bar by the drag queens, maybe a croissant. Next to you, the mailman’s peeling his hard-boiled egg. Half of it disappears in one bite. You look away. The yolk’s yellow circle reminds you of an eye.

Xavier Mauméjean has a degree in philosophy and science of religions. He has won the renowned Rosny Award (the most important French award for science fiction) in 2005 and 2008. Mauméjean is also the author of short stories and radio plays for France Culture (winning the Grand Prix de la Radio in 2014), and works for television and cinema. He lives in the North of France, with his wife and their daughter, Zelda.

Iraqi Vets Graphic Novel at Guernica

May 9th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Walking Wounded

Over at Guernica, an excerpt from Walking Wounded: Uncut Stories from Iraq and Afghanistan, by Olivier Morel and artist Maël. It’s a graphic novel companion piece to the documentary On the Bridge, which tracks the repercussions of PTSD on several soldiers returned from the front. It was a privilege to work on this sensitive and searing book of graphic journalism.

Black Spring at Words Without Borders

May 11th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Black Spring

The annual Words Without Borders Comics Issue ran in February, but thanks to the miracle of the interwebs, it’s still available to be greedily perused! Check out an excerpt from Black Spring, the memoir of Cuban political refugee Alejandro González Raga as told to author Maxence Emery and illustrated by Thomas Humeau. Raga was a victim of the titular event, a 2003 dissident crackdown. The excerpt covers Raga’s childhood among citizens block committees, and the free flowering of adolescence cut short by government repression.

In the Pipeline: Jérémie Guez’s Eyes Full of Empty

May 13th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink


I recently had the pleasure of translating Du vide plein les yeux, the third novel by the young Parisian crime writer Jérémie Guez. Guez was born in Paris in 1988, and has already been hailed as the rising star of contemporary French noir. His two previous novels Balancé dans les cordes and Paris la unit were awarded the 2013 SNCF du Polar and 2012 Plume Libre prizes, respectively.

Eyes Full of Empty, as I’ve titled it, is the third novel in Guez’s Parisian trilogy, but the books don’t share a single protagonist. You can read more about it here, at the publisher’s site. Unnamed Books is a terrific new LA press devoted to “unlikely protagonists, undiscovered territories and courageous voices.”

Translating this noir was a fascinating exercise in contemporary slang. Guez knows Paris and his people inside and out. Like much of private eye fiction, this novel offers a cross-section of society, from high life to low, with astute observations about race and class.


Out Now: Book 3 of Frederik Peeters’ Aama

May 15th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Aama 3

The third volume of Frederik Peeters’ cosmic SF saga Aama, The Desert of Mirrors, now available for your reading pleasure. Things really speed up in this, the penultimate chapter, and Peeters’ depiction of the planet Ona(ji) under the organic influence of the evolving Aama remains disturbing as ever. Don’t miss it!


Now Available: Pablo by Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie

May 17th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

SelfMadeHero is delighted to announce the publication of PABLO, which explores Picasso’s  formative years amongst the bohemians of Montmartre, including Apollinaire, Max Jacob and Gertrude Stein. Winner of the Grand Prix at France’s RTL Graphic Novel Awards, PABLO, written by Julie Birmant and illustrated by Clément Oubrerie, is the latest in SelfMadeHero’s Arts Masters series, which to date includes the highly praised Rembrandt and Vincent.

Pablo English


This award-winning graphic biography of Pablo Picasso (1881–1973) captures the prolific and eventful life of one of the world’s best-loved artists. Pablo explores Picasso’s early life among the bohemians of Montmartre, his turbulent relationship with artist/model Fernande Olivier, and how his art developed through friendships
with poets Max Jacob and Guillaume Apollinaire, the painter Georges Braque, and his great rival Henri Matisse. Julie Birmant and Clément Oubrerie depict a career that began in poverty and reached its climax with the advent of cubism and modern art.
Julie Birmant, a former director of the Brussels film school INSAS, has made documentaries on popular science and co-edited issues of the Journal of Alternative Theatre. She lives in France. Clément Oubrerie is a French artist who has illustrated more than 40 books. His first graphic novel, Aya of Yop City, won the First Book Award at the Angoulême International Comics Festival; was nominated for the YALSA Great Graphic Novels list and an Eisner Award; and made best-of lists in the
Washington Post, Booklist, Publishers Weekly, and School Library Journal.

Yves and Ada Rémy in The Black Herald

May 19th, 2015 § 0 comments § permalink

Black Herald

Hear ye, hear ye! The fifth and latest issue of The Black Herald, bilingual gem of the Parisian literary scene, has arrived. Brainchild of Blandine Longre and Paul Stubbs, it is packed to the gills with work by exciting talents past, present, and future: David Gascoyne, Olive Moore, Egon Bondy, Rosemary Lloyd, Pierre Cendors, Andrew Fentham, Peter Oswald, Charles Nodier, Alistair Ian Blyth, Bensalem Himmich, Eurydice Antolin, Afonso Cruz, Heller Levinson, Anne-Sylvie Homassel, Philippe Annocque, David Spittle, Cécile Lombard, Jos Roy, Michael Lee Rattigan, Victor Segalen, César Vallejo, Anthony Seidman… and a never-before-published interview with Emil Cioran!

I am proud The Black Herald has chosen to feature my translation of Yves et Ada Rémy’s story “The House of the Nightjars,” from their classic volume of interconnected tales, Les Soldats de la mer [The Soldiers of the Sea]. Something between an alternate history and a midsummer night’s fantasy, it was first published in 1968 and has been multiply reprinted since.

Here’s an excerpt:

All the rest is but the noise of war now, squadrons passing at a gallop in the streets, teams hauling field guns and artillery carriages with their ironshod wheels, a din a thousand djinns could not have equaled; all the rest is but the noise of war now with cannons thundering beyond the hills, rising smoke, chasseurs à pied coming and going and fleeing, regiments moving off in tight columns, heavy and invincible and dissolving in the smoke of battle uphill from town as you watched war’s dishevelments from the dormer windows, your heart in your throat, eyes brimming with tears, and the wind flung that mad, bitter, venomous odor of burnt powder all over town; all the rest is but the noise of war now with soldiers in red uniforms, or blue, or green, running through the fields and up the hillsides, coming and going, up and down—like nightjars, child, flying toads, goatsuckers, in braying flocks. All the rest is now but the mad and wondrous face of war.

Husband and wife Yves and Ada Rémy are writers, filmmakers, and utterly charming people, who together have authored short stories, radio plays, and three other novels, one of which, La Maison du Cygne [The House of the Swan] won the Grand Prix de l’Imaginaire at Utopiales in 1979.


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