Post exoticism in 10 lessons.Lesson 11 by Antoine Volodine

Post exoticism in 10 lessons.Lesson 11 by Antoine Volodine

French fiction

Original title -Le Post-exotisme en dix leçons, leçon onze

Translator J.T Mahany

Source – review copy


It began when they come took me from my home
And put me in Dead Row,
Of which I am nearly wholly innocent, you know.
And I’ll say it again
I.. am.. not.. afraid.. to.. die.

I began to warm and chill
To objects and their fields,
A ragged cup, a twisted mop
The face of Jesus in my soup
Those sinister dinner deals
The meal trolley’s wicked wheels
A hooked bone rising from my food
All things either good or ungood.

i choose Nick Cave’s mercy seat as it is also a man reflecting on his life in Jail .

This is the second of four books I got sent from Open Letter the american publisher .I have been aware of Antoine Volodine ,via the three percent podcast (a good podcast for fans of translated fiction ) .So Antoine Volodine is the main Pseudonym of a french writer , he has also used Lutz Bassmann ,Manuela Draeger and Elli Kronauer .All the books he has published have been around a near distant future and a group of writers that form a movement called “Post exoticism ” .

Lutz Bassmann passed his final days as we all did ,between life and death .A rotten odor stagnated in the cell , which did not come from its occupant, but from outside. The sewers in the city fermenting, the docks in the habor were emiting a rancid signal, the covered markets were stinking terribly as they often did in the springtime when both the waters and the temperature began to rise .

The opening lines evoke his last days so well .

The book is one long piece that is based on Lutz Bassmanns last days ion a prison in the near future as he looks back on the Post exoticism movement and the writers involved in the form of ten lessons .The text forms a description of his present in the jail and intersped with piece from his fellow writers in the Post exoticism movement , so we get a piece about the romance ,whioch mentions an earlier book in the series Minor angels (which was the first in the series I remember hearing about ) .Other lessons specific terms critics of the time use in the reviews .Through to a final list of 343 works that make up the cannon of Post exoticism (I assume these are books the writer has in mind to write or use in other works ).I struggle to describe this as it is a series of pieces about this imagined movement  as great whole as a radical movement of testing writers breaking the law with the words .

7 Specific Terms

We all know that is hazardous to analyze the post-exotic production with terms conceived by official literary critics, made for performing autopsies on textual cadavers that riddle their morgues. The exercise is possible , though at a price of mental contortions that turn post-exoticism into a meeting place for the schizophrenic and haughty elite, perversely infatuated with illegible music .

One of the lessons about how to critic and use certain terms .


I struggle to describe this book,as it is totally  unique  and really it is part of a great whole that forms a great work, almost a  vision .A new  way at looking at fiction .The words and works these writers involved with this movement in the near future are testing the boundaries and testing what writing can do .This is maybe a radical look at the future and how writing could be dangerous again .This book is maybe a great starting place as we find a little about the series and the writers involved (although they are all Antoine Volodine ).For me it was a start of a journey through this writers work with at least 20 plus books to be translated we have a lot to look forward too .I have been hooked this is a short book that will set you thinking about this future and the myriad of writers Volodine has conquered up for us to discover .

Have you read Antoine Volodine or one of his alias ?

Nobel winner 2015 Svetlana Alexievich


The winner has been announced earlier today,it was the Belarusian writer Svetlana Alexievich.Not a huge surprise she was second favourite last year in the betting and first for all of this years betting .Its great see a non fiction writer winner the prize,her reportage style is one I enjoyed last month ans will again when I get a copy of Zinky boys or the new book which is coming out on Fitzcarraldo editions next year . I described my view of her as” Bringing  clarity to a cacophony of voices ” which sums up my feeling of Voices of chernoybyl which I reviewed here .So on too next year and wait and see who wins .

International Poetry day Nobel Poets ? Ko Un and Adonis

Today is international poetry day,I have rarely featured poetry in translation,I personally read very little poetry maybe one or two collections a year if that so if tomorrow sees a Poet winning the Nobel I will be interested to read more as to get the prize for the best body of work must mean something anyway with today being international poetry day I will feature two short piece by two of the poets riding high in the Nobel Literature betting this year. Which poets from around the world have you read ?

Ko Un

The poet called the poet of his people .I liked this short poem Ear of the few I read by him.There is an article about him from the guardian a few years ago .




Someone’s coming
from the other world.
Hiss of night rain.
Someone’s going there now.
The two are sure to meet.



The second poet often mention for a Nobel is the Syrian poet Adonis or Adunis . I have read many of these piece from the wonderful Arablit about Adonis , you can also find a lot on the Arabist site as well .I choose a part of a poem about childhood think of those children in Syria or on the way here at the moment.

Adonis or Adunis (Ali Ahmad Said Esber)


I have mention him a couole of times in previous Nobel literature build up posts .

Celebrating Childhood



Even the wind wants
to become a cart
pulled by butterflies.
I remember madness
leaning for the first time
on the mind’s pillow.
I was talking to my body then
and my body was an idea
I wrote in red.
Red is the sun’s most beautiful throne
and all the other colors
worship on red rugs.

Kindle fire or paperwhite ? I’ve killed another ereader


Now her is a question for you all ,I went to charge my kindle fire back up this last week and found it had died tried various suggestions and no luck it had just gone to tech heaven as so much does this day .I now have a some point probably christmas to replace it , I have an ipad but find it cumbersome to read with so want a replacement Kindle , I hate having to get one but I do need it to read the ocasional PDF file or like this year with the IFFP I had to download most of the books , but this is the point I hate reading ebooks , but have to sometimes so do I pop for this bargain Fire from Amazon that is just 50 pound , I’m not sure what the scree ppi being so low will mean or do I pop for a paperwhite that is meant be near the paper look in its e ink screen , I did have a sony ereader(which I broke )but I wonder if the screens are better now than six or so years ago when I had the sony ? I know all about phones and stuff but still not sure on eink or a tablet to replace my fire hd .

Do you like ereader ?

A grain of wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o


A grain of wheat by Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o

Kenyan fiction

Source – Personnel copy

Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh-oh-oh, yea-eah!
Men and people will fight ya down (Tell me why!)
When ya see Jah light. (Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!)
Let me tell you if you’re not wrong; (Then, why?)
Everything is all right.
So we gonna walk – all right! – through de roads of creation:
We the generation (Tell me why!)
(Trod through great tribulation) trod through great tribulation.

Exodus, all right! Movement of Jah people!
Oh, yeah! O-oo, yeah! All right!
Exodus: Movement of Jah people! Oh, yeah!

I choose Exdous a Marley sung about freedom this lyric is influenced by a biblical text as is the title of the book .


I add a second from the list of names in the nobel Betting for this years Lit prize the Kenyan writer Ngũgĩ wa Thiong’o  has been high on the betting the last few years .He studied in Both Kenya , Uganda and Leeds in the uk,which is where he wrote this book in 1967.He is an active campaigner for maintaining African languages and has written a number of books in his own Gikuyu language .

Mugo felt nervous .He was lying on his back and looking at the roof .Sooty locks hung from the fern and grass thatch and all pointed at his heart .A clear drop of water was delicately suspended above .The drop fattened and grew dirtier as it absorbed grains of soot ,Then started drawing towards him.He tried to shut his eyes.The would not close .

The opening sets the scene so well .

A grain of wheat is set in the time just before,during and after the independence of Kenya . WE see the story of how Kenya gained independence  in a series of flashback stories as we are in the present with Mugo ,a lonely man in his village as the prepared to celebrate Independence day .Add to this a revenge for a traitor that is to be dealt with on this day or as it is called by the villagers Uhuru day (freedom day ) . Mugo sold people out to the brits but he wasn’t the only one Karanja did as well where as others in the village fought with the rebels and killed a brutal police man  and were capture and sent to prison whilst the wives were left behind with men like Karanja need I say more,add to this a Brit ex pat that is in one man all that was wrong with Brits in Africa John Thomson is that man .All this in one small african village the whole country in a group of a few men each showing a side of the conflict and how it effect each one of them .

Kenya Regained her Uhuru from the British on 12 December 1963 .A minute before midnight , lights were put out at Nairobi stadium so that people from all over the country and the world who gathered there for the midnight ceremony were swallowed by darkness .In the dark ,the Union Jack was quickly lowered .When next the lights came o the new Kenya flag was flying and fluttering and waving,in the air .The police band played the new National Anthem

Near the end we see the Freedom regained for Kenya .

What we see here is one of the books that is considered the main books in the cannon of African fiction a book that breaks away in style somewhat of earlier novels .The feel is of using the oral tradition in the village in the way the story of them all getting to Uhuru are woven into a complex novel  that shows how Britain was in Africa , how Kenya found freedom  is a blueprint for a number of other countries that found freedom afterwards  .This book is still as powerful as when it was written .I have had him as nobel winner for a few years it just the look of the draw who will win next week .

Have you read Thiong’o ?

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