Revenge of the Translator


By Brice Matthieussent
Translated by Emma Ramadan

The work of a masterful novelist and translator collide in this visionary and hilarious debut from acclaimed French writer Brice Matthieussent.

Publication Date: October 2, 2018

Paperback: 9781941920695
Ebook: 9781941920701


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“At once a powerful satire and an ode to a collaborative art form, this delightful novel will have readers scratching their heads, retracing their steps, and delighting anew in the art of translation, including Ramadan’s own skillful work here.” — Publishers Weekly

Revenge of the Translator follows Trad, who is translating a mysterious author’s book, Translator’s Revenge, from English to French. The book opens as a series of footnotes from Trad as he justifies changes he makes. As the novel progresses, Trad begins to take over the writing, methodically breaking down the work of the original writer and changing the course of the text. The lines between reality and fiction start to blur as Trad’s world overlaps with the characters in Translator’s Revenge, who seem to grow more and more independent of Trad’s increasingly deranged struggle to control the plot. Revenge of the Translator is a brilliant, rule-defying exploration of literature, the act of writing and translating, and the often complicated relationship between authors and their translators.


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One of EuropeNow Journal’s Best Translations of 2018

Hailey Dezort (@hayhails) chose Revenge of the Translator as her book club pick, and featured several posts about the book (10-24-18)

“confusing, sexy, intelligent, funny, disarming, irresistible . . . one of the great metatextual novels of the 21st century (so far), and it’s difficult for me to be comfortable with a statement that bold, but honestly, it really is that good. If you enjoy the act of reading at all, get it, read it, teach it, savor it.” – Katharine Coldiron, The Carolina Quarterly

“An intensely thrilling tale of intrigue and translation with a comedic undercurrent, the novel explores the transcendent power of obsessive dedication and the blurred lines between reality and text.”- World Literature Today Winter 2019 issue

“A gripping and hilarious exploration of literature come to life and showcases translation as the ultimate act of creation. A wonderful read!”- Caravansérail bookstore in London, UK

“If 2017 was the year when the translation community rallied around Kate Briggs’s This Little Art, then 2019 should be the year of Revenge of the Translator.” – Onomatomania

“This barrage of symbols may sound overwhelming, but in fact the ingenious, and sometimes plain outrageous, devices Matthieussent engineers to continue reintroducing these elements into the text is one of the great joys of the book. This network of symbols, which the reader is constantly trying to process and make sense of, is what drives the novel on and stops it from descending (completely) into farce.” – Onomatomania

“Here is a thrilling meta novel originally written in French – a peek into the mind of an obsessive, and increasingly unstable translator. Written entirely of footnoted annotations, it’s about a French translator translating a fictional work back into its original language, attempting to justify his growing changes to the text.”- Largehearted Boy’s Librairie Drawn & Quarterly Books of the Week

“It’s a credit to Ramadan that Revenge of the Translator, in its entirety, manages to feel like a necessary transgression. You could say that she didn’t do much, didn’t change much, didn’t stray much. But you could also say that it was her most transgressive, subversive move to forego revenge, content instead to disappear.”- Alec Joyner, Full Stop

“Ramadan opts for unabashed provocation, uprooting the text from its cultural stasis and holding it up to the piercing scrutiny of today’s most inflammatory concerns. It’s a work that amounts to a critical reinvention that aspires not to a spot among the translated literary canon, but to the unraveling of the very standards by which that canon is praised.”- Arshy Azizi, LA Review of Books

“Wonderfully lost in the intricately woven plots, in the novel’s surreal atmosphere and rebellious humor, the reader encounters translation as a place for humanity—flawed, powerful, and shared.”- Asymptote’s August Book Club Selection

“A clever satire on American pulp novels… There are twists aplenty, not least of which are the many meta-fictional aspects.” – Tony Malone