Volodine and translator J. T. Mahany to be honored by at June 6 Albertine Prize award ceremony in NYC

May 22, 2017 | By French Culture

New York, NY (May 12, 2017) – Bardo or Not Bardo, Antoine Volodine's darkly comic collection of vignettes following several newly dead characters through the Tibetan afterlife, was named today winner of the inaugural Albertine Prize, co-presented by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy and Van Cleef & Arpels.

The annual reader's-choice award recognizes American readers’ favorite work of contemporary Francophone fiction while encouraging the discovery of new literary voices, translated and published in the US. The new $10,000 award honors the author and translator of a French-language novel published in the U.S. during the previous year.

The book published by Open Letter Books will be fêted on June 6th at a celebration at Albertine, the acclaimed bookshop of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York City. Antoine Volodine  and translator of Bardo or not Bardo, J.T. Mahany, will be presented the award during a ceremony hosted by the Prize's honorary chairs, American author and translator Lydia Davis and French literary journalist François Busnel.

Bardo or Not Bardo consists of seven vignettes set in a universe of failed revolutions, radical shamanism, and off-kilter nomenclature. In each tale, a newly dead character bungles his way through the Tibetan afterlife, or Bardo, failing to achieve enlightenment, while the living make a similar mess of things. The book is considered one of the funniest installments in Volodine's acclaimed post-apocalyptic series, which has been hailed as one of the most inventive, ambitious projects of contemporary writing. Antoine Volodine is actually the pen name of a writer who published more than forty books under four different pseudonyms, four different identities who belong to the same literary movement he created: post-exoticism.

"Antoine Volodine's genre-defying Bardo or Not Bardo embodies the wit and intellectual audacity of contemporary French fiction, and we are thrilled to bring such an innovative voice to a broad U.S. audience," said Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy in the United States. "Since Albertine opened in 2014, we have been amazed by American readers' enthusiasm for French literature and their eagerness to discover newer writers. The Albertine Prize is a perfect way for us to introduce them to the rich diversity of French-language fiction being written today."

Bardo or Not Bardo was chosen by online voters over the course of six weeks, starting with an original shortlist of ten nominees selected by Albertine staff and approved by Davis and Busnel. The first round of voting narrowed the list down to three finalists, which also included Eve Out of Her Ruins (published by Deep Vellum), Ananda Devi's poetic snapshot of  life on the increasingly plagued by violence on the island of Mauritius, and The Heart (FSG), Maylis de Kerangal's stylistically audacious recounting of the 24 hours surrounding a fatal car crash and a subsequent heart transplant.

To be eligible for the award, entrants had to have been released by a U.S. publisher in 2016. Each first-round nominee was evaluated on the basis of the quality of the original text and English translation, as well as its contribution to the overall diversity of the nominee list. The entire first-round roster can be found at http://www.albertine.com/albertine-prize-round1/.

Launched in 2014, Albertine Books offers the most comprehensive selection of French-language books and English translations in the United States, boasting more than 14,000 titles from over 30 French-speaking countries around the world. The venue also hosts readings, panels, and performances aimed at fostering French-American intellectual exchange.

The program is made possible with support from Air France, Bookwitty, and JCDecaux. Additional support is provided by Ladurée, The Mark, Pommery, diptyque Paris, and La Rêveuse.

About Antoine Volodine

The pseudonymous Antoine Volodine has published forty two books under several names, many of which are set in a post-apocalyptic world where members of a “post-exoticism” writing movement have all been arrested as subversives. In the U.S., he published under this name Writers, published by Dalkey Archive, Post-Exoticism in ten lessons, lesson eleven, Radiant Terminus, published by Open Letter Books, Naming the Jungle, published by The New Press, and Minor Angels, published by University of Nebraska Press. Under the name Manuela Draeger, Dorothy Project released In the Time of the Blue Ball; We Monks and Soldiers was published by University of Nebraska Press under the name Lutz Bassmann. Together, the books constitute one of the most inventive, ambitious projects of contemporary writing.

About JT Mahany

J.T. Mahany is from Savannah, GA, and also Rochester, NY. He translates French literature and teaches Rhetoric & Composition and also translated the 2015 U.S. edition of Volodine's Post Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven.

About Albertine

Albertine is a reading room and bookshop that brings to life French-American intellectual exchange. A permanent venue for free events and debates, the space offers more than 14,000 contemporary and classic titles from over 30 French-speaking countries around the world. Visit www.albertine.com.

About the Cultural Services of the French Embassy

The Cultural Services of the French Embassy promotes the best of French arts, literature, cinema, digital innovation, language, and higher education across the US. Based in New York City, Washington D.C., and eight other cities across the country, the Cultural Services brings artists, authors, intellectuals and innovators to cities nationwide. It also builds partnerships between French and American artists, institutions and universities on both sides of the Atlantic. In New York, through its bookshop Albertine, it fosters French-American exchange around literature and the arts. www.frenchculture.org.

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