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Mathias Énard Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Zone (2008)Description / Buy at Amazon
Street of Thieves (2012)Description / Buy at Amazon
Compass (2015)Description / Buy at Amazon
Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants (2018)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Annual Banquet of the Gravediggers' Guild (2020)Description / Buy at Amazon

Mathias Enard
Mathias Enard, born in 1972 is a French novelist. He studied Arabic and Persian and spent long periods of time in the Middle East.

“Zone” won Prix Candide, Prix Decembre, Bourse Thyde-Monnier SGDL, Prix Cadmous, Prix Initiales, and Inter Book Prize. “Compass” made the shortlist for Man Book International Prize in 2017, translated by Charlotte Mandell. “Street of Thieves” made the longlist for Best Translated Book Award, which was also translated by Charlotte Mandell. He won the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding in 2017, the Order of Arts and Letters in 2016, and Prix Goncourt for “Boussole” in 2015. He also won the Premio Gregor von Rezzori for Citta di Firenze.

In 2013 he took a writing residency in Berlin, and in 2020, he was Friedrich Durrenmatt Guest Professor for World Literature at the University of Bern.

“Zone” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2010. Francis Mirkovic, who is a French Intelligence Services agent for fifteen years, is traveling first class on the train leaving Milan and heading to Rome. Handcuffed to the luggage rack up above him is this briefcase which contains a wealth of information about all of the arms dealers, war criminals, and terrorists of the Zone, which is the Mediterranean region, from Beirut to Barcelona, from Trieste to Algiers, which has become his specialty, to sell to the Vatican.

Exhausted from amphetamines and booze, he revisits the violent history of the Zone and his own participation in that violence, starting as a mercenary fighting for a far-right Croatian militia during the 1990s.

One of the truly original books of the decade, and is written as just a single, hypnotic, physically irresistible, and propulsive sentence, this book is an Iliad for our time, a panoramic and extraordinary view of violent conflict and its consequences during the twentieth century and beyond.

“Street of Thieves” is the second stand alone novel and was released in 2014. Young Lakhdar is homeless in Tangier, after he got caught in flagrante with Meryem, his cousin. While the religious and political tensions in the Mediterranean flare up with the Arab Spring and the global financial crisis, Lakhdar and his buddy Bassam entertain their dreams of emigration, which are fueled by a desire for a better life and freedom.

Part road movie, part political thriller, part romance, this novel from Mathias Enard takes us from the violence in the streets of Tangier to Barcelona’s louche Raval quarter.

This is an intense coming-of-age tale which delves deep into the savage realities of the immigrant experience.

“Compass” is the third stand alone novel and was released in 2017. While night falls over Vienna, Franz Ritter, who is an insomniac musicologist, takes to his sickbed with an unspecified illness and spends one restless night drifting between memories and dreams, revisiting the important chapters in his life: his ongoing fascination with the Middle East and his numerous travels to places like Damascus, Aleppo, Istanbul, and Tehran, and the various artists, musicians, writers, academics, explorers, and orientalists that populate this vast dreamscape.

At the core of all these memories is his unrequited and elusive love, named Sarah, this fiercely intelligent French scholar that is caught up in the intricate tension between the Middle East and Europe. A nocturnal, immersive, musical novel, filled with bittersweet humor and generous erudition, this is a journey and is a declaration of admiration, a hand reaching out, like a bridge between West and East, tomorrow and yesterday, and is a quest for the otherness that’s inside of all of us. It won the Prix Goncourt in 2015.

“Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants” is the fourth stand alone novel and was released in 2018. In 1506, Michelangelo (who is a young yet already renowned sculptor) has been invited by the sultan of Constantinople to design a bridge right over the Golden Horn. This sultan has offered, along with an enormous payment, the promise of immortality, since da Vinci’s design had been rejected. Michelangelo, after a bit of hesitation, flees from Rome and an irritated Pope Julius II, whose commission he just leaves unfinished, and shows up in Constantinople for this epic project.

Once he’s there, he explores the wonder and the beauty of the Ottoman Empire, describing and sketching his impressions the whole way, and gets immersed in cloak-and-dagger palace intrigues while he struggles to create what very well could be his greatest architectural masterpiece.

Constructed out of real historical fragments, this novella is a thrilling piece about why bridges are built, why stories are told, and how seemingly unmatched pieces, seen from the opposite sides of civilization, are able to mirror one another.

Enard, in his fiction, is constructing a history rich and intricate vision of a persistently misunderstood part of the world.

“The Annual Banquet of the Gravedigger’s Guild” is the fifth stand alone novel and was released in 2023. An exciting comic masterwork that is rooted in the French countryside. David Mazon, an anthropology student, moves from Paris to La Pierre-Saint-Christophe (which is a village in the marshlands of western France), so that he can research his thesis on contemporary agrarian life. Determined to better understand the essence of the local culture better, this intrepid young scholar scurries around restlessly on his moped in order to interview the residents.

However what David does not yet know just yet is that here, in this apparently ordinary place, once the stage was set for revolutions and wars, Death leads this dance: when a thing perishes, the Wheel of Life recycles its soul and tosses it back into the world either as a human, microbe, or a wild animal, sometimes in the past, and sometimes in the future.

And once a year, Death and the living observe this temporary truce during this gargantuan three day long feast where gravediggers gorge themselves on language, drink, and food.

Brimming with Mathias’ encyclopedic brilliance and characteristic wit, this book is a riotous novel where the edges between the past and the present are constantly dissolving against a Rabelaisian backdrop of excess.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Mathias Énard

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