Tom Roberge Reads Albertine Prize Finalist ‘Bardo or Not Bardo’

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Albertine Prize Finalist
Antoine Volodine , Bardo , J. T. Mahany , Le Seuil , Open Letter Books

Bardo or Not Bardo, a novel by Antoine Volodine, translated from the French by J. T. Mahany, (Open Letter Books/US), Le Seuil/FR), is long-listed for the Albertine Prize, a reader’s choice award. Albertine booksellers have selected ten of the best French novels translated into English in the past year; US-based readers can vote between March 16 and April 30th on the Albertine site here.

TOM ROBERGE on Bardo or Not Bardo

tom_roberge_“Volodine’s genius is apparent from the first page. Like all great writers, the most enduring, he approaches his subject matter and characters with a dazzling blend of empathy, pathos, and humor, all of which creates a pleasantly beguiling reading experience. In Bardo or Not Bardo we’re presented with a series of recently deceased individuals who must, of course, pass through Bardo (the Tibetan afterlife) before being reincarnated. Volodine, however, echoing Samuel Beckett’s macabre-absurdist tradition, refuses to allow anyone to attain enlightenment without a certain number of missteps, misunderstandings, and outright failures. These vignettes are rife with both slapstick comedy and cutting political commentary, with mysticism and raw fear, with optimism and dread. Taken together, the collection offers a beautiful symposium on the nature of change and self-awareness, something that is—sadly—very rare indeed, but much needed and greatly appreciated.”

Bardo or Not Bardo, a novel translated from the French by J. T. Mahany, Open Letter Books (US), Le Seuil (FR)

More info on the Albertine Prize here.

Tom Roberge grew up in Connecticut and served in the Peace Corps before landing in New York, where he worked in a variety of roles in the book world: bookseller at McNally Jackson; managing editor at A Public Space; editor at Penguin Books; publicist and bookstore liaison at New Directions; and deputy director at Albertine Books. Some of his favorite authors are Don DeLillo, Maggie Nelson, and Philip K. Dick. His favorite drink is a scotch on the rocks.

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