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The Fata Morgana Books by Jonathan Littell

“Four nightmarish novellas . . . The writing is sinuous and propulsive; disturbing images are rendered with icy, swift precision.” — The New Yorker

“These stories lead the reader on a race through the abyss, which, as Littell imagines it, has no depth, only shifting landscapes of sex and dread. But maybe that’s the topography of the modern abyss.” — Paul La Farge, author of Luminous Airplanes

“The stories evoke the fin-de-siècle sensibility of Baudelaire or Schnitzler.”
Publishers Weekly

After the astonishing success of his Prix Goncourt-winning debut novel, The Kindly Ones, Jonathan Littell began publishing more books with two of France’s most prestigious houses: Gallimard and the small Montpellier publisher Fata Morgana. To the latter he gave four strange novellas revolving around sex, love, and memory. We are proud to publish them in one volume as The Fata Morgana Books.

Ranging from swimming pools to art galleries, from beds to battlefields, and a few mythical places, these novellas are narrated by hermaphrodites, ghosts, wanderers, and wonders. Littell here once again mixes his love of the grotesque with time-twisting narratives and ethereal protagonists. Like an Italo Calvino or a Clarice Lispector, Littell channels the emotions of loss and desire to illuminate the shadowy depths of solitude, reflection, longing, and lust.

With fleet prose and Proustian self-reflection, these stories range from chaotic airlifts to a series of bullfights under the hot sun, fatal negotiations resolved as mathematical equations, and the nine circles of Hell. Commanding and beguiling, The Fata Morgana Books rings with depth and mystery, always pushing through to explore the in-between spaces: between thoughts, between bodies, between hungers and their satisfactions, between eyes and the things they look at.

More praise for The Fata Morgana Books:

“Littell’s stories are structurally elegant . . . The Fata Morgana Books is a frequently thought-provoking [read].” — Foreword Reviews

“A living, breathing, sublime collection of novellas that ignite the reader’s imagination and entices their most base of desires to grab control.” — Typographical Era

“The four novellas that comprise this collection deal with a wealth of themes, but the ultimate one is of unachieved desire and the isolating mania it spawns. . . . ‘Surrealistic’ doesn’t fully capture the formal breed of this collection.” — HTMLGIANT

“A gorgeous tour through a world of human excess and futility . . . exhilarating.” — Numéro Cinq


Jonathan Littell received the Prix Goncourt for his 2006 novel The Kindly Ones, called by Time magazine “unmistakably the work of a profoundly gifted writer.” A former worker for Action Against Hunger in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, he is the author of several works in French.

Charlotte Mandell is the translator of numerous award-winning works of innovative French literature, among them The Kindly Ones, Zone by Mathias Enard, Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong by Pierre Bayard, and works by Proust, Blanchot, and Jacques Rancière. She lives in New York City.


Cet ouvrage a bénéficié du soutien des Programmes d’aide à la publication de l’Institut Français. This work, published as part of a program of aid for publication, received support from the Institut Français.

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