By Anne Garréta
Translated from the French by Emma Ramadan
The newest novel by Prix Medicis-winner Anne Garréta, In Concrete is a feminist inversion of a domestic drama crossed with Oulipian nursery rhyme.
Recipient of the 2020 Hemingway Grant by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy
Publication Date: May 11, 2021
Garréta’s first novel in a decade follows the mania that descends upon a family when the father finds himself in possession of a concrete mixer. As he seeks to modernize every aspect of their lives, disaster strikes when the younger sibling is subsumed by concrete.
Through puns, wordplay, and dizzying verbal effect, Garréta reinvents the novel form and blurs the line between spoken and written language in an attempt to confront the elasticity of communication.
Anne F. Garréta is a graduate of the Ecole Normale Supérieure, received her License de Lettres at the Université Paris 4 (Sorbonne), her Maitrise and her D.E.A at the Université Paris 7 (Diderot), and a PhD at New York University. The author of six novels, Garréta was coopted to the Oulipo in 2000. Her first novel, Sphinx (1986), which caused a sensation when Deep Vellum published its first English translation in 2015, tells a love story between two people without giving any indication of grammatical gender for the narrator or their lover. She won France’s prestigious Prix Médicis in 2002 and the Albertine Prize in 2018 for her book, Not One Day, which was also nominated for a Lambda Literary Award. Garréta teaches regularly in France at the Université Rennes 2, and more recently at Paris 7 (Diderot), and is a professor at Duke University.
Emma Ramadan is a literary translator of poetry and prose from France, the Middle East, and North Africa. She is the recipient of a Fulbright, an NEA Translation Fellowship, a PEN/Heim grant, and the 2018 Albertine Prize. Her translations for Deep Vellum include Anne Garréta’s Sphinx and Not One Day, Fouad Laroui's The Curious Case of Dassoukine's Trousers, and Brice Matthieussent's Revenge of the Translator. She is based in Providence, RI, where she co-owns Riffraff bookstore and bar.
"In the case of In Concrete, Anne F. Garréta’s new novel in English, translated from the French by Emma Ramadan, the line between written and spoken language deteriorates to the point of nonexistence, the two modes of communication flowing freely between each other throughout the novel. . . [this] places Garréta as a distinctly talented writer of fiction, unlike anything else right now." —Teddy Burnette, Chicago Review of Books
“Garréta’s novel is a charming tour de force of childhood adventure, positing fanciful tomboy spunk and punning humor as an antidote to deadening fixity and daddy fixations. Deftly balancing the literal and the imaginative, Emma Ramadan’s splendid translation from the French is funny, beguiling, and mysterious from first to last.” —Brendan Riley, Los Angeles Review of Books
"Oulipo member Garréta’s wonderfully strange latest (after Not One Day) chronicles the misfortunes that befall a family after the father receives a concrete mixer for his birthday... Ramadan, winner of the PEN Translation Prize, makes each of the pages sing. Fans of experimental fiction will find this delightful." —Publishers Weekly
"Through a unique writing style where spelling mistakes coexist with onomatopoeias and saucy allusions, the border between spoken and written language gradually ceases to exist." —The Cultural Services of the French Embassy
“Garréta and Ramadan continue to redefine the limits of language—these are not words to read but words to bite, chew, choke on. Consuming In Concrete, with all its pleasures and surprises, feels like learning a new game, ruled by Garréta's definitive and mystifying blend of folklore and testimony.” — Kyle Alderdice from Book Culture