Books by Christine Donougher

Released: July 26, 2001

A colorful 1998 novel, winner of France's Prix Fémina for First Fiction, relates the adventures of a crafty Armenian merchant and a zealous manuscript illuminator who travel overland (on the fabled Silk Road) to the Far East, to engage in trade and convert to Christianity barbarian Mongol emperor Kublai (grandson to Genghis Khan). Exotic, sensuously detailed, picaresque, and often disturbingly graphic, this is the kind of novel we don't see very often these days (think of it as in part a wry Gallic variant version of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales). A rich, exciting tale—and Donougher's superb translation is a marvel of precisely phrased eloquence. Read full book review >
THE BOOK OF TOBIAS by Sylvie Germain
Released: Aug. 10, 2000

The most recent (1998) of Germain's highly charged Gothic antiromances set in the French countryside (close kin to her The Book of Nights and Night of Amber) is a quirky retelling of the biblical apocryphal tale of Tobias. Its principal characters—both hyper-real and ineffably striking—include a guileless wayfarer, his pragmatic guardian angel, and a beautiful young woman who is either an innocent virgin or Death's handmaiden on earth (if, indeed, not both). Germain's atmospheric landscapes are clogged with haunting detail, but her people are so freighted with garish eccentricities and mythic resonances that it's often initially difficult to credit their reality. Once you've entered her hothouse fictional world, however, there's no resisting its gorgeous, impossible density and seductiveness. An acquired taste, her ineffably odd books are nevertheless highly accomplished performances.Read full book review >
NIGHT OF AMBER by Sylvie Germain
Released: Sept. 30, 1999

Night Of Amber ($23.95; Sept. 30; 336 pp.; 1-56792-090-X). The sequel to Germain's prizewinning The Book of Nights (English translation 1993)—a magical-realist chronicle that surveyed the fortunes of the ineffably grotesque Peniel family throughout the postwar period's defining political events and consequent social changes. This volume (first published in 1989) carries their story through the war in Algeria and the 1968 Paris student riots, while focusing on the life, crimes, and (ironic) redemption of misfit Charles-Victor, a sexual predator, sadist, and murderer whose outrageous excesses recall the exploits of Louis-Ferdinand CÇline's unforgettable misanthropes and monsters. Germain pitches her tale at a delirious expressionistic height that is, almost miraculously, sustained for more than 300 pages. Night of Amber and its equally brilliant predecessor together comprise one of the most remarkably inventive French fictions since the heyday of Mauriac, Sartre, and Camus. Read full book review >