Mathias Enard: Zone

All morning spent absorbed in Mathias Enard’s Zone; the same wonder at Charlotte Mandell’s translation as Shelley Frisch’s rendering of Stach’s biography of Kafka. Zone is better read in long immersive binges, punctuated by dreamy Bordeaux or grassy Sencha Fukujyu tea.

Enard’s circumlocutory thoughts, precisely paced over the long Rome-ward train journey, never falter or lose their pace. Sometimes with a book, you get that fortunate feeling that this book has found its ideal reader, or as Enard writes, “sometimes you come across books that resemble you, they open up your chest from chin to navel, stun you . . .” I love that word resemble, so close to reassemble. Both accurate in this case. After Zone I feel in need of reassembly.

” . . . too many things there are too many things everything is too heavy even a train won’t manage to carry those memories to Rome they weigh so much, they weigh more than all the executioners and victims in the briefcase over my seat . . .” That’s what Zone is about, but like Calasso’s books, it is also about everything else.

17 thoughts on “Mathias Enard: Zone

  1. A “dreamy Bordeaux ” sounds wonderful. I will keep that in mind when I am reading Compass which I recently acquired a copy of. I am particularly looking forward to it after you glowing review of Zone.

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  2. Yes, we were so taken with this that we called it in for our Shadow IFFP longlist (it was inexplicably left off the ‘real’ list), and it eventually came second 🙂

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  3. Sympathize with the “I’ve got it around here somewhere” problem–as I have Zone around here somewhere and your recommendation has piqued my interest. Though I think any book better with a dreamy Bordeaux…

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  4. I understand (from Stu) that Street of Thieves is in part inspired by Mohammed Choukri’s For Bread Alone, so it might be worth checking that out.

    Zone was my book of the year in the year I read it and continues to loom large. It introduced me to other writers too, referenced in its pages. Structurally as you allude it’s terribly clever.

    Are you reading it in hardcopy? I’ve found the page margins in Fitzcarraldo a little large for my taste. How are you getting on with that if you do have the physical?

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