ISBN-10: 1934824267
ISBN-13: 9781934824269
Publisher: Open Letter
Publish Date: 12/15/2010
Dimensions: 8.58" L, 5.54" W, 1.15" H


Translator: Charlotte Mandell
Introduction by: Brian Evenson


Price: $16.95


The novel of the decade, if not of the century.–Christophe Claro

Francis Servain Mirkovic, a French-born Croat who has been working for the French Intelligence Services for fifteen years, is traveling by train from Milan to Rome. He’s carrying a briefcase whose contents he’s selling to a representative from the Vatican; the briefcase contains a wealth of information about the violent history of the Zone–the lands of the Mediterranean basin, Spain, Algeria, Lebanon, Italy, that have become Mirkovic’s specialty.

Over the course of a single night, Mirkovic visits the sites of these tragedies in his memory and recalls the damage that his own participation in that violence–as a soldier fighting for Croatia during the Balkan Wars–has wreaked in his own life. Mirkovic hopes that this night will be his last in the Zone, that this journey will expiate his sins, and that he can disappear with Sashka, the only woman he hasn’t abandoned, forever . . .

One of the truly original books of the decade–and written as a single, hypnotic, propulsive, physically irresistible sentence–Mathias Énard’s Zone provides an extraordinary and panoramic view of the turmoil that has long deviled the shores of the Mediterranean.

Mathias Énard has won numerous prizes for his works, including the the Prix du Livre Inter and the Prix Décembre for his novel Zone. He is currently a professor of Arabic at the University of Barcelona.

Charlotte Mandell has translated works from a number of important French authors, including Proust, Flaubert, Genet, Maupassant, and Blanchot, among others. She received a Literary Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for her translation of Enard’s Zone.

Brian Evenson is a translator from French and the author of ten books of fiction, including The Open Curtain, which was a finalist for an Edgar Award and an IHG Award.

Read More

Homeric in its scope and grandeur, remarkable in its detail, Énard's American debut is a screaming take on history, war, and violence ... Mandell's translation of the extravagant text is stunning.–Publishers Weekly

Frenchman Mathias Énard's Zone, released in France in 2008 and just out from Open Letter, has earned abundant and varied praise. Already the proclaimed darling of French critics and awards, the novel is poised to make a startling impression upon its audience in America. It's a one-sentence wonder; a spy thriller; a miniature history of the Mediterranean; intellectually dense and historically expansive; an overwhelmingly exquisite and trying tome.–Words Without Borders

One does not so much read this book as become absorbed in it. The cacophony of images is vast and chaotic, yet this is a kind of bewilderment that engages, instilling a desire for repeat readings in order to gain a clearer view ... At length, Zone comes to feel like a book that has contained multitudes, one that can support a hundred theories and spark a hundred arguments ... a startling, stimulating read, a document that should stand out as a memorable part of the long history of its setting.–Scott Esposito, The National

Move over, James Joyce and all other pretenders. The new owner of the record for longest sentence in published literature is Mathias Enard for his 517-page French novel Zone. In fact, the entire novel, except for a few pages of flash backs, is made up of a single 150,000-word sentence.–Patrick T. Reardon, Oklahoma City Newspaper

Énard takes up the challenge of writing an endless sentence by including only one period in his long novel. This ambitious gamble won Énard considerable praise in France, and now, with Charlotte Mandell's lucid translation, readers of English can evaluate his text and larger mythic framework ... Though the reader is marooned in Mirkovic's consciousness for more than 500 pages, the boundaries of his skull do not feel claustrophobic, because the mind at work in the novel is remarkably elastic ... this millennial archive also measures guilt – it passes sentence, as it were, on both the regrets and memories of Énard's narrator and the larger guilt and shame that he describes as "the weight of Western civilization.–Stephen Burn, The New York TImes

Zone is a documentary novel. While throughout its pages, it invokes acontinually the sources of Western lliterature vis-á-vis the ancient myths, it all the same reflects our age's curatorial impulses to preserve information lest it be forgotten over the course of the nest news cycle. It is, in short, one of the best books of the year.–Christopher Byrd, The Daily Beast of the more breathlessly received French novels of recent years, now elegantly translated into English by Charlotte Mandell ... the author is less interested in the conventional tale of cross and double-cross than with the psychology of betrayal. So, instead of a Bond-style spectacle, we get a meditation on honour, belief, fealty, and patriotism. In place of an espionage thriller we find a historical and philosophical investigation into the human propensity to bend high ideals into justifications for bloodshed and tribal hatred.–Geordie Williamson, The Australian

Only rarely is a novel ambitious enough to contribute to the general discourse on the novel, as if one book could illuminate them all. Yet, Zone, which draws equally from the French- and English-language novelistic traditions, is perhaps capable of telling us something about one possible shape the novel may take going forward. Formally ambitious and with a deep sense of political engagement, Zone is brilliant but imperfect, a virtuosic showcase of memory, consciousness, and the lingering effects of political conflict from the Spanish Civil War to the crisis in Palestine ... Buoyed by powerful, stark prose and an acute sense of empathy, Zone carries the novel forward as unstoppably as the history it seeks to describe.–David S. Wallace, The Harvard Crimson

...The books should be a disaster, a pretentious mess. But somehow, miraculously, it's not. It's compulsively readable, thoroughly compelling, and, to my way of thinking, the most exciting and interesting new work of literature I've read in a long time.–Dennis Abrams, Publishing Perspectives

Zone is a contemporary Homeric epic, 500 pages of one sentence-and it works. Enard's message is that no matter where the conflict takes place and what the issues are, the human atrocities are the same.–Olive Mullet, New Pages

As Énard weaves these pieces into his feverish monologue, one gets the sense of history as something geological, a succession of ruins and conflicts laid upon one another like layers of rock. The dead are the incriminating fossils perpetually finding their way to the surface.–Jacob Silverman, Los Angeles Review of Books

Énard plumbs the depths of human cruelty to create a work of extraordinary moral gravity and literary power, a novel that deserves a place among the great works of war literature.–Michael Andrews, Bomb Magazine

More Reviews


ISBN-10: 1934824267
ISBN-13: 9781934824269
Publisher: Open Letter
Publish Date: 12/15/2010
Dimensions: 8.58" L, 5.54" W, 1.15" H
Skip to content