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Editor's note.

This issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction, our third Dalkey Archive Annual, showcases works that are forthcoming over the next year--and it's a particularly interesting list, branching into literary territory that the Press doesn't often essay. It is, as always, a very international selection as well: We've included works from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, France, Norway, Romania, and the U.S., and are very pleased to be debuting our first Slovenian novel, Vlado Zabot's haunting Succubus.

Our focus is, as ever, divided between the sublime, the ridiculous, and the devastating--ranging from Herve Le Tellier's comic, Oulipian take on erotic fiction (The Sextine Chapel), to Heimrad Backer's deeply unsettling excavation of the polite, even poetic language of the Third Reich's culture of extermination (transcript). Backer's work is one of three nonfiction titles presented here: we are also very pleased to debut the preface to acclaimed philosopher Lars Svendsen's gripping examination of our tendency, as a species, to produce cultures like Nazi Germany: A Philosophy of Evil. We have also included a section from the Journal of the late photographer Alix Cleo Roubaud: in this unique and heartbreaking work, we find her revealed not only as an inspiration to her husband, Jacques Roubaud--whose masterpiece The Great Fire of London was written, in part, as a reaction to her premature death--but also as a profound influence on his poetics, and a major voice in her own right.

Austrian author Mela Hartwig (a friend and contemporary of Virginia Woolf) also receives a long-overdue English premiere in this issue: Am I a Redundant Human Being? is a mordant novel about the degrading effects of modern life on a woman who tells us her story in an ecstasy of self-loathing unmatched in contemporary literature--and who finds a curious counterweight in the vibrant, ebullient, and unrepentant old woman narrating Joao Ubaldo Ribeiros House of the Fortunate Buddhas.

The United States is represented by Joshua Cohen, whose Witz bears comparison, in both scope and accomplishment, to David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest--though with a bit of the Borscht Belt mixed in. We are also honored to be returning Kenward Elmslie's brilliant story-collection-cum-novel The Orchid Stories to print, which John Ashbery has described as "a rococo world of banality and nightmare which ... comes in the end to seem like paradise ..."

There are old friends here as well, like Dumitru Tsepeneag, whose Hotel Europa is the great Romanian expatriate's most direct confrontation with his own political exile, and Jean-Philippe Toussaint, whose autobiographical Self-Portrait Abroad reveals that the author's own life bears a suspicious similarity to a novel by Jean-Philippe Toussaint.
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Publication:The Review of Contemporary Fiction
Date:Sep 22, 2009
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