Friday Fiction Corner: Éric Chevillard, the Best Translated Book Awards, and Cauliflower

The Author and Me

Congratulations to Éric Chevillard, Jordan Stump, and the team at Dalkey Archive Press! Chevillard’s The Author and Me has been named as a finalist for the 2015 Best Translated Book Award in Fiction!

The last line of Éric Chevillard’s brief biography on his website reads: “Hier encore, un de ses biographes est mort d’ennui.” Once translated: “Yesterday, one of his biographers has died of boredom.” For the non-Francophone reader researching Chevillard, it is difficult to uncover more biographical details on this French author. While he is relatively young, he published his first novel at age twenty three, and has been prolific enough to publish more than twenty works of fiction, including The Author and Me and Demolishing Nisard, both published in translation by Dalkey Archive. Writing in support of The Author and Me in the BTBAs at the Three Percent Blog, Michael Orthofer of the Complete Review gives a more complete run-down of Chevillard’s translated works.

But aside from Chevillard’s credentials—deathly boring!—The Author and Me is a witty, hilarious, and peculiar book. A man orders trout amandine at a café only to be served cauliflower gratin, a dish he detests, after which he goes off on a rant, exploding, expounding, apologizing, repeating. Chevillard the author intervenes occasionally, distinguishing himself from the narrator, meditating on the merits of cauliflower and “the frustrations of making original art.” It has been praised by Kirkus as “surprising and satisfying metafiction.”

Finally, we would be remiss (in a post about the Best Translated Book Awards, no less!) to fail to give proper credit to Jordan Stump for providing English readers with a fine translation. You can read an interview with Stump about translating another experimental French author, Antoine Volodine–in which Stump argues that “the three great French writers of the early twenty-first century are Volodine, Eric Chevillard, and Marie NDiaye”–here.

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