Antoine Volodine is the principal pseudonym of a French novelist, born in 1950 in Chalon-sur-Saône and raised in Lyon, who has published twenty books under this name, several of which are available in English translation. After studying literature, Volodine taught Russian for 15 years, and has devoted himself to writing and translating since 1987. He began publishing novels as part of a science-fiction series at Éditions Denoël, meanwhile declaring that his books were not science-fiction. His books have also been published by Éditions Minuit, Gallimard and Seuil.
Volodine publishes under the names Lutz Bassmann and Manuela Draeger as well. Most of his works (under all three pseudonyms) take place in a post-apocalyptic world where members of the “post-exoticism” writing movement have all been arrested as subversive elements. Together, these works constitute one of the most inventive, ambitious projects of contemporary writing. He has won the 2014 Prix Medicis for his most recent novel, Terminus radieux.
- Biographie comparée de Jorian Murgrave, Denoël, 1985
- Lisbonne, dernière marge, Minuit, 1990
- Le Nom des singes, Minuit, 1994; Naming the Jungle, The New Press, 1996 (translated by Linda Coverdale)
- Le Post-exotisme en dix leçons, leçon onze, Gallimard, 1998; Post-Exoticism in Ten Lessons, Lesson Eleven, Open Letter, 2015 (translated by J.T. Mahany)
- Des anges mineurs, Seuil, 1999 (Prix Wepler 1999, Prix du Livre Inter 2000); Minor Angels, University of Nebraska Press, 2004 (translated by Jordan Stump)
- Terminus radieux, Seuil, 2014 (Prix Médicis); Radiant Terminus, Open Letter, 2017 (translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman)
About Bardo or Not Bardo
(Open Letter, 2016, Translated by J.T. Mahany)
In each of these seven vignettes, someone dies and has to make his way through the Tibetan afterlife, also known as the Bardo, where souls wander for forty-nine days before being reborn with the help of the Book of the Dead.
Unfortunately, Volodine’s characters bungle their chances at enlightenment: the newly dead end up choosing to waste away their afterlife sleeping or to be reborn as an insignificant spider. The living aren’t much better off and make a mess of things in their own way, to the point of mistaking a Tibetan cookbook for the holy book.
October 2016: Litquake San Francisco
Whitney Humanities Center
53 Wall Street, Room 208
New Haven, CT