By Brice Matthiessent
Translated by Emma Ramadan
The work of a masterful novelist and translator collide in this visionary and hilarious debut from acclaimed French writer Brice Matthieussent.
Publication Date: October 2, 2018
The work of a masterful novelist and translator collide in this visionary and hilarious debut from acclaimed French writer Brice Matthieussent. Revenge of the Translator follows Trad, who is translating a mysterious author's book, Translator's Revenge, from English to French. The book opens as a series of footnotes from Trad as he justifies changes he makes. As the novel progresses, Trad begins to take over the writing, methodically breaking down the work of the original writer and changing the course of the text. The lines between reality and fiction start to blur as Trad's world overlaps with the characters in Translator's Revenge, who seem to grow more and more independent of Trad's increasingly deranged struggle to control the plot. Revenge of the Translator is a brilliant, rule-defying exploration of literature, the act of writing and translating, and the often complicated relationship between authors and their translators.
Brice Matthieussent is an award-winning translator of over 200 novels from English into French, including the writings of Jim Harrison, for which he was awarded the 2013 Prix Jules Janin from the Académie française. In 2000, he was awarded the UNESCO-Françoise Gallimard Prize for his translation of Robert McLiam Wilson's Eureka Street. His other translations include the works of Jack Kerouac, Henry Miller, Annie Dillard, Rudolph Wurlitzer, and Charles Bukowski. He graduated from the École nationale supérieure Mines de Paris in 1973, and earned his PhD in philosophy in 1977. Matthieussent currently resides in France, where he teaches the history of contemporary art and aesthetics at the Ecole Supérieure des Beaux-Arts in Marseille. Revenge of the Translator, forthcoming from Deep Vellum in 2018, is his first novel, and was awarded the Prix du style Cultura upon publication in France in 2009.
Emma Ramadan is a graduate of Brown University, received her Master's in Cultural Translation from the American University of Paris, and recently completed a Fulbright Fellowship for literary translation in Morocco. Her translation of Anne Garreta's Sphinx was published by Deep Vellum in spring 2015 and was nominated for both the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award. Her translation of Anne Parian's prose poem Monospace was released by La Presse in fall 2015, and her translation of Fouad Laroui's Prix Goncourt story collection The Curious Case of Dassoukine's Trousers was published in spring 2016. Her forthcoming translations of Laroui's debut novel in English The Tribulations of the Last Sjilmassi, and Brice Matthiuessent's Revenge of the Translator will be published by Deep Vellum in 2018.
One of EuropeNow's "Best Translations of 2018"
“At once a powerful satire and an ode to a collaborative art form, this delightful novel will have readers scratching their heads, retracing their steps, and delighting anew in the art of translation, including Ramadan’s own skillful work here.” —Publishers Weekly
“Here is a thrilling meta novel originally written in French - a peek into the mind of an obsessive, and increasingly unstable translator. Written entirely of footnoted annotations, it’s about a French translator translating a fictional work back into its original language, attempting to justify his growing changes to the text.” —Librairie Drawn & Quarterly
“…stuffed with symbols, mises en abyme, and direct and indirect comments that state or suggest that we cannot know where the limits of fiction and pretence lie and how far they extend.” —Erike Fülöp, University of Hamburg
“Matthieussent’s novel is a revenge indeed, a postmodern tour de force where the notions of original, translation, source and target texts, author and translator, are blurred to the point of becoming irrelevant, shedding a whole new light on the concepts of faithfulness and creativity, and redefining typographical and cultural spaces.” —Pierre-Alexis Mevel and Dawn Cornelio, University of Nottingham
“We are at the heart of Literature, with its capacity to make the real vibrate, to reach it using words.” —Le Monde
"Brilliant, brilliant, brilliant… worthy of our Umberto Eco.” —Riccardo, Rossiello, SoloLibri
“An intensely thrilling tale of intrigue and translation with a comedic undercurrent, the novel explores the transcendent power of obsessive dedication and the blurred lines between reality and text.” —World Literature Today (Winter 2019)
“A gripping and hilarious exploration of literature come to life and showcases translation as the ultimate act of creation. A wonderful read!” —Caravansérail Bookstore (London, UK)
“If 2017 was the year when the translation community rallied around Kate Briggs’s This Little Art, then 2019 should be the year of Revenge of the Translator.” —Onomatomania
“This barrage of symbols may sound overwhelming, but in fact the ingenious, and sometimes plain outrageous, devices Matthieussent engineers to continue reintroducing these elements into the text is one of the great joys of the book. This network of symbols, which the reader is constantly trying to process and make sense of, is what drives the novel on and stops it from descending (completely) into farce.”—Onomatomania
“Here is a thrilling meta novel originally written in French - a peek into the mind of an obsessive, and increasingly unstable translator. Written entirely of footnoted annotations, it’s about a French translator translating a fictional work back into its original language, attempting to justify his growing changes to the text.” —Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week
“It’s a credit to Ramadan that Revenge of the Translator, in its entirety, manages to feel like a necessary transgression. You could say that she didn’t do much, didn’t change much, didn’t stray much. But you could also say that it was her most transgressive, subversive move to forego revenge, content instead to disappear.” —Alec Joyner, Full Stop
“Ramadan opts for unabashed provocation, uprooting the text from its cultural stasis and holding it up to the piercing scrutiny of today’s most inflammatory concerns. It’s a work that amounts to a critical reinvention that aspires not to a spot among the translated literary canon, but to the unraveling of the very standards by which that canon is praised.” —Arshy Azizi, LA Review of Books
“Wonderfully lost in the intricately woven plots, in the novel’s surreal atmosphere and rebellious humor, the reader encounters translation as a place for humanity—flawed, powerful, and shared.” —Asymptote’s August Book Club Selection
"So Revenge of the Translator is an elaborate variation on the usual novel of an author playing a role in his own work, manipulating his characters even more directly...It's an amusing idea, and fairly amusingly played out, with Prote a significant figure, cruelly playing with his characters but then outflanked by the translator. Matthieussent has good fun with this, on its different levels..." —M.A.Orthofer, The Complete Review
"A clever satire on American pulp novels... There are twists aplenty, not least of which are the many meta-fictional aspects." —Tony Malone
“Confusing, sexy, intelligent, funny, disarming, irresistible . . . one of the great metatextual novels of the 21st century (so far), and it’s difficult for me to be comfortable with a statement that bold, but honestly, it really is that good. If you enjoy the act of reading at all, get it, read it, teach it, savor it.” —Katharine Coldiron, The Carolina Quarterly