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In Concrete

In Concrete

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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.

Publication Date: May 11, 2021

Paperback: 9781646050550

eBook:  9781646050567


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.


Recipient of the 2020 Hemingway Grant by the Cultural Services of the French Embassy 

"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

“While language exploration is evident throughout—with twistings like “muddernized” and “may swell begin at the beginning” functioning as approximations of heard expressions, and with neologisms arising in phrases like “monstrous scatastrophe”—there is much more going on. Two aspects stand out: comedy and war.” —Jeff Bursey, Rain Taxi

"Language, and language-play really is at the fore here: Garréta basically never lets up. This is, of course, a great challenge in translation, but Emma Ramadan gamely plays along." —M.A. Orthofer, The Complete Review

"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

"In Concrete is Anne Garréta’s greatest narrative accomplishment to date. Translator Emma Ramadan has skillfully managed to recreate lewd jokes, playful puns, and linguistic puzzles resulting in an utterly delightful read." — Deep Vellum Books, Cristina Rodriguez

“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

Praise for Sphinx:

One of Flavorwire’s Top 50 Independent Books of 2015

One of Entropy Magazine‘s Best Fiction Books of 2015

One of Bookriot's 100 Must-Read Books Translated From French

Sphinx is one of FSG editor Jackson Howard’s favorite books of 2018 on the FSG Work in Progress blog

“The set-up is such a classic, relatable tale of falling in — and out — of love that one wonders why gender has always been such a huge factor in how we discuss relationships, in fiction and otherwise. . . . So, the author, and the translator, created their own language, championing love and desire over power and difference.”Huffington Post, Maddie Crum 

 “Garréta’s aim was to overthrow gender binaries carried by language, and in light of recent demands by transgender groups to use gender neutral pronouns, Sphinx seems curiously prescient.” — The Times Literary Supplement (TLS), Catherine Humble

“…Sphinx highlights the already limiting nature of language when it comes to matters of gender, and of love.” — The Atlantic, Stephanie Hayes 

“The strength of [Sphinx] lies in its philosophical eloquence . . . Take away gender and race from the book, and what’s left? Love, viewed as a nihilistic transcendence . . . considerably more than a language game.” — London Review of Books, Adam Mars-Jones 


Biographical Note

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.