Additional Book Information
Publication Date: November 1, 2011
More Kafka than Kafka, Renee Gladman’s achievement ranks alongside many of Borges’ in its creation of a fantastical landscape with deep psychological impact.
Renee Gladman has always struck me as being a dreamer—she writes that way and the dreaming seems to construct the architecture of the world unfolding before our reading eyes.
Gladman is more fantasist than estranging analyst. The quality of her dreaming, its interior abstraction, is exquisite. Its wonder lies in how closed its shutters are to any mundane world, how far back the lanes and alleyways of its imagining recede from the proper nouns and pedestrianisms of our lives.
The Ravikian novels exalt the primacy of language to further imaginative possibility, which dominant and oppressive regimes would shut down. Gladman's writing cleaves to the luminous. It slips through the gaps in our thinking to pluralise, queer, subvert, and mobilise. These books are strange but, through a bright and deft poetic obliquity, they shine an incomparable light onto our contemporary moment.
—The White Review
The Ravicka books—flagships of the elegant small press Dorothy—are what usually get classified as 'poet's novels,' like Anne Carson's Autobiography of Red or My Life by Lyn Hejinian, but in this case, that's a cop-out. Gladman writes and publishes poetry, nonfiction, and novels with the same frequency. I doubt she makes much distinction between disciplines (and in fact she resembles a visual artist in her staunch pursuit of a theme through varied layers of form and abstraction).
[The Ravicka] books are absurd and surreal, and are stabilized by an eerie interior logic: Think The Phantom Tollbooth for adults.
Gladman’s talent for linguistic architecture makes for a supple, tight promenade through heady ideas whose appeal rests on the implicit connection it draws between a people, their language, and the shape of communication. A novel set inside a poem, the work grasps at the heart of an imaginary people, deftly illustrating their inner life and looming stagnation in little more than 150 pages.
Aesthetically precise and formally daring, Renee Gladman sets us adrift in the country of her imagination, challenging us to puzzle out fluency, space, and meaning along the way.
—Windham-Campbell Prize Committee