The Tomb Guardians by Paul Griffiths
As two intellectuals quietly discuss Strigel’s paintings of guardians at the tomb, their voices blend and clash with the panicked voices of the guards themselves, who have woken up to find the tomb is open and one of their companions is missing. As one group wrestles with the representation of historical truth in art, the other tries to find a way out of a fix. A stunning short novel, which reinvents how we do art history at the same time as it reinvents the novel as a form.”Philip Terry, Editor The Penguin Book of Oulipo
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More Metamorphic Fictions!
We publish four extraordinary novels in 2021-2, each one touching on the theme of Metamorphosis that has inspired authors from Ovid to Ali Smith.
The Lost Spell by Yismake Worku, trans. Bethlehem Attfield
While researching a book of spells, a wealthy man transforms himself into a dog. We follow the (now) canine protagonist as he journeys to Addis Ababa, and through his eyes we witness the sublime beauty of the Ethiopian landscape. The story of one man’s literal dehumanization allegorizes the abasement our narrator witnesses around him as he simultaneously lauds and laments his country… Worku presents a fly-on-the-wall (or a dog-on-the-road) view of contemporary Ethiopia that is at once a critique and a bittersweet love letter.Asymptote, February 11th 2020
Unable to remember the spell that will turn him back again, Dore finds refuge with a German woman working on a Chinese engineering project. Stripped of his status and language, he takes the road home to Addis, back to his wife and children; to find the spell. As he travels fearfully through the towns along the way, he sees Ethiopian history and politics from a new perspective. He struggles to keep himself at the centre of his world, despite his new reality.
Worku is renowned as a brilliant and influential young Ethiopian novelist. Bethlehem Attfield’s translation of The Lost Spell gives us a glimpse of a contemporary novelist redefining political satire within a radically different psychogeography.