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Katie Shireen Assef at East Bay Booksellers
January 28 @ 7:00 pm
Join Katie Shireen Assef, translator of Valérie Mréjen’s Black Forest.
A man decides he is old enough. A woman returns early from a lovers’ retreat to a bottle of pills at home. And how should you explain the nuances of contemporary Paris to your mother, twenty – five years dead? Valérie Mréjen’s Black Forest is a book of mourning that isn’t morbid or sentimental, but rather an elegant and wryly humorous brace against the void. With a paradoxically detached intimacy, Mréjen follows death’s dark and twisted path through the lives it touches, wringing out every possible meaning—or non–meaning— along the way. A writer at the height of her career who draws comparisons to Georges Perec and Nathalie Sarraute, Mréjen has cemented her status as an auteur with a singular voice, guiding us through the Black Forest of ghosts that populate her subconscious.
“Mréjen’s crystalline prose never grasps for sentimentality, and her meticulous, humane, and powerful volume unforgettably depicts the way the dead experience life after death in the traces they leave in the minds of the living.” ― Publishers Weekly
“A wonderfully dark little book in a perfect translation that will haunt you long after you put it down. I’m so happy to have read it.” — Emma Ramadan, translator of Sphinx (Deep Vellum, 2016) and Me & Other Writings (Dorothy Project, 2019)
“Filmmaker and novelist Valérie Mréjen has an eye that cuts and chisels. Nothing escapes her intuitive vigilance…With her, details are isolated and become powerful revealers of truth. Between life and death, in the tradition of Nathalie Sarraute, she seeks to write in the very place where consciousness, emotion, and reason are born, and then fade… she shows that absence can also be a form of presence.” — Marine Landrot, Télérama
“A sentence by Valérie Mréjen never pushes, rather glides along the page like on silk… Mréjen puts her finger on the wound, as delicately as possible.” — Eric Chevillard, Le Mondeca