Châteaureynaud Central

For anyone interested in a taste of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s work before picking up a copy of his collection A Life on Paper from Small Beer Press, here is a list of all the places you can find it. Some are links to free stories online, others to magazine sites where back issues can be purchased.

A Life on Paper is the official winner in the Long Form Category of the first ever Science Fiction and Fantasy Translation Award, 2011!

Wakefield Press will be publishing The Messengers, the long-awaited follow-up to his English-language debut. The Kafkaesque novella that put Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud on the map, winning the Grand Prix du roman des Nouvelles littéraires in 1974 and later republished in a revised version, from which I will be translating.

Praise for Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud:

“Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud is 63 and has never published a book in English until now. A Life on Paper: Selected Stories, brilliantly translated by Edward Gauvin, opens the door at last. . . . Nothing matters in this book unless it has been told, everything is told. Open this book.” — John Clute, Strange Horizons

“As weird as they are elegant, as delicious as they are unsettling, these fables place Châteaureynaud in the secret brotherhood that has only exemplars, no definition: Kafka, Bruno Schulz, Nathanael West, Aimee Bender. We are lucky indeed to have them, in a very skilled translation.”
—John Crowley (Little, Big)

“The celebrated Châteaureynaud, who over the course of a distinguished career has created short tales that are not exactly contes cruels but which linger on the edge of darkness and absurdity.”
— Jeff VanderMeer,  The New York Times

“Châteaureynaud is a master craftsman, encapsulating weighty themes with pith and heart. In his hands, the short story is a Gothic cathedral whittled from a wine cork.”
Victor Brand, The Believer

“Châteaureynaud celebrates the quiet, hidden beauties of the world and the objects or knowledge we hold tight like talismans to protect us from its losses and horrors.”
— Matt Rowe, The Quarterly Conversation

“Châteaureynaud’s stories are disorienting, bizarre, mythical. The stories don’t end with epiphanies or a tidy wrapping-up. Some of the endings are abrupt, even unsatisfying; they feel more like a beginning. So what? A Life on Paper is fantastic in both meanings: it’s fantastic, as in strange, unreal, weird, imaginary; and it’s fantastic, as in absolutely fucking awesome. People will call A Life on Paper magical realism. A few will call it irrealism. I don’t care what you call it. I just want you to read it.”
— Alan Good, Bookslut

“Both classic and modern, strange and simple, Châteaureynaud’s stories remind not only of Vonnegut but of Gogol and Kafka. What’s endearing about the stories is the amount of tenderness running through them. Even in stories about bizarre cruelty (the title story tells of a father who had his daughter photographed a dozen times a day for her entire life), affection provides the glue.”
Time Out Chicago

“In reading this marvelous selection of Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud’s short fiction, I could not help but reminisce about childhood nights spent huddled near a campfire, seated at the feet of an elder and listening, enraptured, to ghost stories. Like those master storytellers whose haunting tales were exaggerated by the play of their hands over the flame, Châteaureynaud makes expert thematic use of both light and shadow to reveal his fantastical realms of wonder and fear.” ~ Catherine Bailey, Three Percent

A Life on Paper is a brief selection from more than thirty years of fiction. Châteaureynaud has a backlist for American readers that this book makes enticingly tangible, almost real. His own work is such that it might be subject of one of his stories. This might be all there is, the rest pure fabrication. The unreal, awaiting translation.”
—Rick Kleffel, The Agony Column

“These 22 curious tales verging on the perverse will strike new English readers of Châteaureynaud’s work as a wonderful find. Beautiful prose featuring ingenuous protagonists and clever, unexpected forays into horror are the hallmarks of these mischievous stories.”
Publishers Weekly

“Châteaureynaud’s dance steps are so nimble that he seems, without effort, to show us what is best in others.”
—Ken Schneyer, Brooklyn Rail

“The sentences are clean and straightforward, the flights of logic bizarre and sometimes dazzling. There is some Borges, some Kafka, and some Hans Christian Andersen moving through these stories. At times even some Barthelme. In general the main characters are male, while the tone is flat and dream-like, mixing mythological and fairytale imagery with an alienated contemporary consciousness… That being said, Châteaureynaud is a very funny writer. His stories are full of sadness and terror and strange existential predicaments, but they also consistently turn up moments of ironic and moving humor.” ~ Gregory Hunt, Devil’s Lake

“The first emotion that this wonderful collection of stories inspired in me was shame: shame that our insular English-speaking world has only now taken upon itself to translate this French literary giant. The man has been writing for 30 years, has scooped numerous French literary awards – what were we waiting for?” ~ Tania Hershman, The Short Review

“In Châteaureynaud, the most potent emotional and poetic moments, the cruelest of his tales, spring from the rift that opens between the unutterable and a language, scrupulously executed in a faultless style, whose raison d’être is to leave nothing unsaid. Words are ideally ordered, brought gracefully and gently to a high level of functioning perfection and, although at their acme, are forced to admit their defeat, to scatter before the world’s impenetrability, the shifting depths of uncertainty, the worm in the rotten fruit of the future. Every story by Châteaureynaud is an opening through which the light peers only to underscore the immensity of shadow.”  ~ Pierre Lepape, Le Monde

“He unfolds a fantastical universe that is never terrifying or oppressing—the situations in his stories might very easily cause the worst anxieties, and yet some touch neither comical nor parodical always comes to alleviate the atmosphere.  What is taking shape here is indeed difficult to pinpoint: not humor, but of another order, more subtle, a kind of gladness popping up here and there, a lightness that keeps things from sinking into blackness… Each of these tales is a perfect incarnation of the short story in its purest form.” ~ Isabelle Roche, Le Littéraire

“He seems to have come from elsewhere, with his discreet, exacting phrases so finely polished only the bare force of the words comes through… brief, luminous, accomplished miniatures, fables without morals that take us smoothly from light into shadow, from reality to fantasy.” ~ Alexis Lorca, Lire

“The themes of dream and reality… the ironies of fate, and the knowledge of one’s mortality are singularly presented in a quasi-surrealist mode. Chateaureynaud’s use of language, not to mention his startling, often bizarre images and metaphors, embellishes the otherwise mundane, realistic world he represents. The result is the creation of an intriguing, surrealistic hybrid of tales, noteworthy for their originality as well as for the psychological territories they invite us to explore.” ~ Donald J. Dziekowicz, World Literature Today

“Chateaureynaud samples, at his leisure, the bitterness of a shadowlands where reality plunges into fraught nightmare.” ~ Laurence Liban, Lire

“These stories are haunted by the twin graces of simplicity and mystery…beneath their almost too seemly exteriors, they burst with madness, strangeness, a sensuality that their prose veneer conceals only the better to reveal.” ~ Michèle Gazier, Télérama

“He leads us… with his sinuous, silken sentences, his precise choice of words, ever evocative, charged with emotion and sensation, humor and surprise.” ~ Serge Cabrol, Encres Vagabondes

“Magical because it leads us astray while pretending to show us the way.  It bows to the best in literature: lies.” ~ Joël Schmidt, Réforme

Gale’s Contemporary Authors series characterizes Châteaureynaud’s stories as “fairly realistic in nature but tinged with an element of fantasy.” This element is used to adumbrate character and emotion, producing what John Taylor in the Review of Contemporary Fiction calls “sensations of oddness to intimations of inexplicable metaphysical mysteries.” Taylor goes on in the Times Literary Supplement to dub him Hoffmanesque, placing him “in the lineage of Poe and Kafka” thanks to “the persuasiveness of his ontology… [which] derives from the parsimony with which he measures out the telltale frissons of supernatural fiction.” In The French Review, Paul Mankin remarks the author’s “sensitive impressionistic prose with… epigrammatic trouvailles.”

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