“A singular novel.” —Lydia Davis, author of Can’t and Won’t and Essays One
“An exhilarating adventure!” —Alberto Manguel, author of The Library at Night and Fabulous Monsters
“Extraordinary. . . . Brings to mind the great mushroom scenes of the film Phantom Thread. How not to be aroused by this whopping treat of verbal virtuosity?” —Mary Ann Caws, author of The Modern Art Cookbook
Aseroë, the mushroom, as object of fascination. First observed in Tasmania and South Africa, it appeared suddenly in France around 1920. It is characterized by its stench and, at maturity, its grotesque beauty.
Aseroë, the word, as incantation. Can a word create a world? It does, here. François Dominique is a conjurer, who through verbal sorcery unleashes the full force of language, while evoking the essential rupture between the word and the object. An impossible endeavor, perhaps, but one at the very heart of literature.
The narrator of Aseroë wanders medieval streets and dense forests, portrait galleries, and rare bookshops. As he explores the frontiers of language, the boundaries of science, art, and alchemy melt away, and the mundane is overtaken by the bizarre. Inhabited by creatures born in darkness, both terrible and alluring, Aseroë is ultimately a meditation on memory and forgetting, creation, and oblivion.
François Dominique is an acclaimed novelist, essayist, poet, and translator. He has received the Burgundy Prize for Literature and is the author of eight novels, including Aseroë and Solène, winner of the Wepler Award and Prix littéraire Charles Brisset. He has translated the poetry of Louis Zukofsky and Rainer Maria Rilke and is the cofounder of the publishing house Ulysses-Fin-de-Siècle.
Big Other Book Award Finalist
World Literature Today “Notable Translations of the Year” selection
“Fiercely original.” —Kirkus Reviews
“Full of wonder. . . . Aseroë is a lyrical contemplation of how words affect reality.” —Foreword Reviews
“[An] enigmatic and radiant book.” —Maurice Blanchot
“This over-the-top, extraordinary novel, in its no less stupendous translation, begins with a mycological intimacy that brings to mind the great mushroom scenes of the film Phantom Thread. How not to be aroused by this whopping treat of verbal virtuosity?” —Mary Ann Caws, author of The Modern Art Cookbook and Creative Gatherings: Meeting Places of Modernism
“A singular novel. Aseroë’s storyteller speaks from within the grasp of mysterious and urgent preoccupations. Yet his confident narration, rich in colorful, familiar detail, and sensitively and gracefully rendered into English by master translator Richard Sieburth, assures us of his obsessions’ importance to him and, within his brilliant and bizarrely convincing world, increasingly to us.” —Lydia Davis, author of Can’t and Won’t and Essays One
What a wonderful piece of writing! What an exhilarating adventure! What a madcap exploration of mushrooms, paintings, Rimbaud, the legend of Orpheus, and the mazes of a poet’s mind, in a jigsaw puzzle of a book that ultimately (like Alice’s Wonderland) makes absolute sense!” —Alberto Manguel, author of The Library at Night and Fabulous Monsters: Dracula, Alice, Superman, and Other Literary Friends
“An immensely pleasurable read.” —Pascal Quignard, Prix Goncourt award–winning author of The Roving Shadows
“In this book oblivion is daylight.” —Éric Vuillard, Prix Goncourt award–winning author of The Order of the Day
“A book filled to the gills with a veritable feast of literary ingredients. To read Aseroë is to experience a kind of inebriation as we drink in the intelligence and the talent of its author.” —Marie Étienne, La Quinzaine Littéraire
“Ranging from the mysterious mushroom known by the name of Aseroë to Giorgione’s painting The Tempest, while meditating on the millions made off the work of Rimbaud, [Aseroë] offers a series of astonishing and detailed variations on the theme of the figures of forgetfulness.” —Claire Devarieux, Libération