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Zone by Mathias Enard

Francis Mirković, a French Intelligence Services agent for fifteen years, is travelling first class on the train from Milan to Rome. Handcuffed to the luggage rack above him is a briefcase containing a wealth of information about the war criminals, terrorists and arms dealers of the Zone – the Mediterranean region, from Barcelona to Beirut, from Algiers to Trieste, which has become his speciality – to sell to the Vatican. Exhausted by alcohol and amphetamines, he revisits the violent history of the Zone and his own participation in that violence, beginning as a mercenary fighting for a far-right Croatian militia in the 1990s. One of the truly original books of the decade, and written as a single, hypnotic, propulsive, physically irresistible sentence, Mathias Enard’s Zone is an Iliad for our time, an extraordinary and panoramic view of violent conflict and its consequences in the twentieth century and beyond.

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Francis Mirković, a French Intelligence Services agent for fifteen years, is travelling first class on the train from Milan to Rome. Handcuffed to the luggage rack above him is a briefcase containing a wealth of information about the war criminals, terrorists and arms dealers of the Zone – the Mediterranean region, from Barcelona to Beirut, from Algiers to Trieste, which has become his speciality – to sell to the Vatican. Exhausted by alcohol and amphetamines, he revisits the violent history of the Zone and his own participation in that violence, beginning as a mercenary fighting for a far-right Croatian militia in the 1990s. One of the truly original books of the decade, and written as a single, hypnotic, propulsive, physically irresistible sentence, Mathias Enard’s Zone is an Iliad for our time, an extraordinary and panoramic view of violent conflict and its consequences in the twentieth century and beyond.

‘[Zone is] an ambitious study of twentieth century conflict and disaster … Enard does for the comma in Zone what Eimear McBride did for the full stop in A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, and just as McBride brought her writing a raw intensity and immediacy, Enard brings to his a similarly fierce political engagements and moral authority … Enard’s novel is to be seen within a tradition of French avant-garde writing … The result is a modern masterpiece…’
— David Collard, Times Literary Supplement

‘[T]he brilliance of Zone lies in its brutal refusal to stop. Again and again, Mathias Enard’s white-knuckle narrative plunges us back into the battle-scarred past, forcing us to confront its horrors … a relentlessly inventive novel.’
— David Winters, Literary Review

‘[T]he material of a conventional thriller has been sublimated into an atmosphere of violence, power and cruelty; humanity here is little more than a vector through which various kinds of insanity flow.’
— Nicholas Lezard, Guardian

Zone … is a staggering literary achievement. A novel written on the grandest scale, with the ambition of creating a modernist prose epic with the scope of Homer or Ezra Pound’s Cantos, it is at once beautiful and encyclopaedic.’
— Thom Cuell, The Workshy Fop

‘Mathias Enard has found a way to restore death to life and life to death, and so joins the first rank of novelists, the bringers of fire, who even as they can’t go on, do.’
— Garth Risk Hallberg, The Millions

‘The novel of the decade, if not of the century.’
— Christophe Claro, translator of Thomas Pynchon

Zone is a major and compelling work, a work that will keep you in its grip from its first utterance to its last.’
— Brian Evenson, author of Last Days

‘Like Flaubert and James Joyce, Enard seems to have found a model for his omnivorous novel in the Homeric epic, while Ezra Pound’s ghost also haunts Zone. … Enard’s erudite and ambitious novel is … a Flaubertian encyclopaedia of our times at the end of a violent century.’
— Stephen Burn, New York Times

Mathias Enard, born in 1972, studied Persian and Arabic and spent long periods in the Middle East. He has lived in Barcelona for about fifteen years, interrupted in 2013 by a writing residency in Berlin. He won the Prix des Cinq Continents de la Francophonie and the Prix Edmée de la Rochefoucauld for his first novel, La perfection du tir. He won several awards for Zone, including the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Décembre, and won the Liste Goncourt/Le Choix de l’Orient, the Prix littéraire de la Porte Dorée, and the Prix du Roman-News for Street of Thieves. His latest novel, Boussole, won the Prix Goncourt in 2015 and was published in France by Actes Sud in August 2015.

Charlotte Mandell has translated fiction, poetry, and philosophy from the French, including works by Proust, Flaubert, Genet, Maupassant, Blanchot, and many other distinguished authors. She has received many accolades and awards for her translations, including a Literature Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for Zone, also by Mathias Enard.

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