Demolishing Nisard Coming

Next month Dalkey Archive will be publishing Demolishing Nisard by Eric Chevillard, one of the more interesting French writers to have come up on my radar lately.

We covered this one at The Quarterly Conversation a while back, long before the book was slated for U.S. publication, in François Monti’s piece on “France’s Foremost Absurdist.”

Since Mourir m’enrhume (Dying Gives Me a Cold) in 1987, Chevillard has published eighteen books, only two of which—Palafox and The Crab Nebula—have been translated into English. One doesn’t need more than a sentence to sum up the argument of a novel by Eric Chevillard: inventing a simple idea and then exhausting it over the course of 150 to 250 pages. His latest novel, Sans l’Orang-Outan (Without the Orangutan) was an affair as straightforward as its title implies: imagine a world where the last orangutan died and figure out the impact. Almost each paragraph develops a new idea, a new possible outcome or consequence in an extremely wide spectrum of situations. This is neither an ecological fable nor a scientifically oriented fiction: Chevillard is France’s foremost absurdist, a modern day surrealist who revels in using popular catchphrases or clichés—here the “butterfly effect” that some suppose will follow the disappearance of a species—and subverts them by means of his imagination and sense of humor.

I also wrote about his strange novel Palafox back in November.

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After reading your take on Palafox, he almost seems like he has similarities to Aira with the short, fantastic books that could turn in any directions but his sentences remind me of Marias. Especially the one that starts with, “One morning at dawn, he made his cry heard, which is to say, a sort of chirping, or more of a meowing, or more of a barking, or more of a lowing…” I intend to check that one out or perhaps wait until Dalkey releases his new one.


The Surrender is Veronica Scott Esposito’s “collection of facts” concerning how she embraced her true gender.


Two long essays of 10,000 words each on sex in—and out of—literature . . .

The first essay dives in to Nicholson Baker’s “sex trilogy,” explaining just what Baker is up to here and why these books ultimately fail to be as sexy as Baker might wish.

From there the book moves on to the second essay, which explains just why Spaniard Javier Marías does right what Baker does wrong . . .


5 essays. 2 interviews.

All in all, over 25,000 words of Latin American literary goodness.

3 never-before-published essays, including “The Digression”—a 4,000-word piece on the most important digression in César Aira’s career.

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