Translated by David and Nicole Ball
5 x 8 inches, 256pp. February 2014
ISBN : 9780857421708
Rs 495.00 (HB)
T., an acclaimed but ageing actor, and Efina, a passionate theatre-goer, are engaged in an obsessive love affair characterized by reciprocal attraction and repulsion. They compulsively write letters (often to express their intense dislike of the other), which are sent or unsent, answered or unanswered; they meet, they break up, they marry, but only for a brief period. They can live neither with nor without one another, and this impossible state of affairs lasts all their lives. In between, there are other men, many other women—and a whole succession of dogs. And always, to the very end, the magic of the theatre, the art of make-believe and sham will be embodied by T., a preposterous man but a sublime artist.
Efina is a novel about obsession, told in a quirky, highly original style. Obsessive thoughts and behaviours are detailed in flat, clear prose and followed to their absurd limit, so that what could have been a sad tale of failed love is transformed into a small masterpiece of dark humour.
Noëlle Revaz was born in Switzerland in 1968 and lives in Lausanne. Her first novel, translated as With the Animals (Dalkey Archive, 2012), was widely hailed in the US as a remarkable achievement. The original, Rapport aux bêtes (Gallimard, 2002) had won a number of literary prizes in Europe, was adapted for the stage and made into a film in France, Animal Heart (Coeur animal), 2009. Her short stories have been adapted for the stage, too. In addition to her fiction, she has written for the theatre and for the radio. Besides her work as a writer, she teaches creative writing at the Swiss Literature Institute at Biel/Bienne, where she lives.
Together or separately, David and Nicole Ball have published nine book-length translations from the French, including Abdourahman A. Waberi’s Passage of Tears (2011) for Seagull Books. Nicole is the translator of Maryse Condé’s Land of Many Colors, David of Darkness Moves: An Henri Michaux Anthology, 1927–1984, Alfred Jarry’s Ubu the King and poems by James Sacré and other poets. Both have translated stories in Haiti Noir and Paris Noir (Akashic Books.) Their most recent translations have appeared in Words Without Borders: The Online Magazine of International Literature. Both have retired from the faculty of Smith College and share their time between Northampton, Massachusetts, and Paris.