© Hartwig Klappert

Mathias Énard   [ France ]

Mathias Énard was born in Niort, France, in 1972. He began his academic studies in contemporary art and then studied Arabic and Persian in Tehran, Egypt, Venice, and Damascus, beginning in 1992. He subsequently spent two years teaching French in a village in Syria. Until 2010, he taught Arabic at the University of Barcelona.

His first novel, »La perfection du tir« (tr: The Perfection of the Shot), appeared in 2003 and tells the story of a sniper in a city torn by civil war. It was followed by »Remonter l’Orénoque« (tr: Back on the Orinoco) in 2005. In »Bréviaire des artificiers« (2007; tr: Breviary of a Blaster) he published a burlesque essay about terrorism. One year later, the publisher Actes Sud released Énard’s novel »Zone« (Eng. 2010) within the context of the »rentrée littéraire« (literary season, referring to a period between late August and November when many French books are published). While on a train trip from Milan to Rome, the protagonist, Francis Servain Mirković, recalls all the shadow players, agitators, terrorists, bankrollers, or middlemen, arms dealers, and war criminals on the run whom he met during his 15 years as an agent in his zone – first Algeria, and then gradually the entire Middle East. The French cultural journal »Télérama« wrote in a review: »Apart from a few commas, no punctuation: A novel in a single sentence, endless, inspired by rage, deadly delusion and possessed by an undreamt-of desire for resurrection.« In his 2010 book »Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d’éléphants« (Eng. »Tell Them of Battles, Kings and Elephants«, 2019) Ènard considers what would have happened if, in the early 16th century, Michelangelo had actually fulfilled the Ottoman Sultan’s request to design a bridge between the Asian and European sides of Constantinople – the divide between Orient and Occident, a topic which remains highly relevant 500 years later. Énard’s next works were the novels »Rue des voleurs« (2012; Eng. »Street of Thieves«, 2014), in which he offers an oppressively convincing panoramic view of the Arab revolutions as well as of the European financial crisis and its repercussions, and »Boussole« (2015; Eng. »Compass«, 2017), in which he again addresses the (historical) relationship between the western world and the Middle East. This book won him the most prestigious French literature prize, the Prix Goncourt, as well as the Leipzig Book Award for European Understanding.

The author has also won numerous prizes for his other works, including the 2009 Prix du Livre Inter for »Zone«, the German-French literary award Candide (2008), and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation’s literature prize. He lives in Barcelona.




La perfection du tir

Actes Sud

Arles, 2003


Remonter l’Orénoque

Actes Sud

Arles, 2005


Bréviaire des artificiers


Paris, 2007



Actes Sud

Arles, 2008


Parle-leur de batailles, de rois et d’éléphants

Actes Sud

Arles, 2010


L’alcool et la nostalgie


Paris, 2011

Rue des voleurs

Actes Sud

Arles, 2012


Tout sera oublié

Actes Sud

Arles, 2013



Actes Sud

Arles, 2015




Open Letter Books

Rochester, 2010

[translation: Charlotte Mandell]

Street of Thieves

Open Letter Books

Rochester, 2014

[translation: Charlotte Mandell] 


New Directions Publishing

New York, 2017

[translation: Charlotte Mandell]

Tell Them of Battles, Kings, and Elephants

New Directions

New York, 2018

[translation: Charlotte Mandell]



Видавництво Старого Лева

Львів, 2017

[пер.: І. Славінська]



Вверх по Ориноко


Москва, 2011

[Перевод: М. Кожевниковa]



Москва, 2018

[Переводчики: E. Морозова, И. Волевич]