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2013 Best Translated Book Award finalist in fiction
The narrator of Prehistoric Times might easily be taken for an inhabitant of Beckett’s world: a dreamer who in his savage and deductive folly tries to modify reality. The writing, with its burlesque variations, accelerations, and ruptures, takes us into a frightening and jubilant delirium, where the message is in the medium and digression gets straight to the point. In an entirely original voice, Eric Chevillard asks looming and luminous questions about who we are, the path we've been traveling, and where we might be going—or not.
Read an excerpt at The Brooklyn Rail!
"Prehistoric Times shows Chevillard at his best: off-kilter and linguistically dazzling, playful and acrobatic, quite mad but always entertaining--and all impossibly captured by Alyson Waters' fluid and masterful translation." -Brian Evenson, author of Windeye and Immobility
"Chevillard’s book is a very profound contemplation on the nature of posterity; it may even be inferred that throughout Prehistoric Times Chevillard writes with an awareness that his own artistic production will be dwarfed within the great span of time against which all human beings must live out their brief existence." -Jordan Anderson, The Quarterly Conversation
Listen to episode 4 of the That Other Word podcast by the Center for Writers and Translators at the American University of Paris, featuring a discussion of Chevillard's Prehistoric Times (starting at 7:59).
My boomerang came back. But I wasn't there anymore.
It seems easier to me to kill a man than to make a paper cootie catcher. A question of dexterity.
And when it finally stops raining, the sun drips on your umbrella.
Side question: how many peas have you swallowed over the course of your life?
The bottle artfully affects the shape of a rocket to shorten the abominable torture that is the time it takes to pass wine from the vine to our throats.
-treats from Eric Chevillard's blog, l-autofictif.over-blog.com
Praise for Palafox:
It’s a masterpiece. It features some of the most outlandish and spectacular prose I’ve read in a long time. It has really made me deliriously happy, in fact."
The fun to be had in Palafox is more along the lines of that spark of pleasure found in a well-aimed cutting remark, or in that spark of insight when, after looking at a painting for 10 minutes, you suddenly realize you’ve just seen something."
Elegant . . . Whimsical. . . . Reminiscent of Julio Cortázar and Borges. . . . Sentences caper musically to intricate patterns of wordplay."
—Review of Contemporary Fiction
Beautifully written . . . toys with the line between real and surreal . . . The prose is simultaneously smooth and startling. . . Mason’s translation is stunning."
Eric Chevillard involves his reader in a powerful meditation on evil, foolishness, and inhumanity lurking in the heart of man."
—Jean-Maurice de Montremy
Imagine a comedy of manners, a supernatural tale, a sly commentary on science's quest for knowledge, a sad story about a creature that seems to possess characteristics common to marsupials, reptiles, and amphibians, not to mention insects and humans, and you have an inkling of what Eric Chevillard has done in his dark, disturbing, delightful, downright funny story of Palafox. Now mix into this brew some of Ronald Firbank's verbal fireworks, Italo Calvino's imaginative flights of exquisite writing, and Raymond Roussel's weird deadpan logic, and you get a little more of an inkling."
Offering the reader an experience that is as disturbing and absurdly funny as it is sublime."