Phosphor in Dreamland

Phosphor in Dreamland

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By Rikki Ducornet

ISBN: 9781628974430

Publication Date: 6/27/23

Wildly comic, erotic, and perverse, Rikki Ducornet’s dazzling novel, Phosphor in Dreamland, explores the relationship between power and madness, nature and its exploitation, pornography and art, innocence and depravity.

Set on the imaginary Caribbean island of Birdland, the novel takes the form of a series of letters from a current resident to an old friend describing the island’s seventeenth-century history that brings together the violent Inquisition, the thoughtless extinction of the island’s exotic fauna, and the amorous story of the deformed artist-philosopher-inventor Phosphor and his impassioned, obsessional love for the beautiful Extravaganza. The Jade Cabinet, Ducornet’s novel and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, was described by one reviewer as “Jane Austen meets Angela Carter via Lewis Carroll.” Phosphor in Dreamland can be described as Jonathan Swift meets Angela Carter via Jorge Luis Borges. This is Ducornet at her magical best.

Other Books by Rikki Ducornet

Jade Cabinet

The One Marvellous Thing

The Word "Desire"


“Rikki Ducornet’s new novel is a delicious, spellbinding masterpiece. The exercise of her extravagant imaginative powers is rigorous, the richness of her writing concentrated to trenchant effect, and her enchanting narrative conducted with great intensity and seriousness. Phosphor’s bewildering, bewildered career deserves a constellation in the firmament of literary heroes.” —Harry Mathews

"Ducornet's fabulous narrative contrivances offer the serious reader both an unusual challenge and a dreamy scape from the constrictions of realism. She's something of a mythical beast herself: a surrealist with a sense of humor, and also a sense of history." —Kirkus Reviews

"Ms. Ducornet's novel is a work of distorting mirrors and trapdoors, some real, others apparent — painted in, perhaps, or photographed. Neither floor nor ceiling, nor even sky, is constant. Over and over, the reader falls through one narrative surface onto another ... Phosphor in Dreamland is a book unlike any you have read before." —The New York Times

“Rikki Ducornet can create an unsettling, dreamlike beauty out of any subject. In the heady mix of her fiction, everything becomes potently suggestive, resonant, fascinating. She exposes life’s harshest truths with a mesmeric delicacy and holds her readers spellbound.” —Joanna Scott

"Phosphor in Dreamland is filled with wry references to Swift (a scholarly double biography titled A Swift and Phosphorous Eye is alluded to), and like that satirist's, Ducornet's humor is sly and sharp. Unlike Swift, though, she also conveys a tender melancholy..." —Publishers Weekly

Praise for Rikki Ducornet

“Rikki Ducornet is imagination's emissary to this mundane world.” —Stephen Sparks, Point Reyes Books

“Ducornet is a novelist of ambition and scope.” —The New York Times

"Ducornet—surrealist, absurdist, pure anarchist at times is one of our most accomplished writers, adept at seizing on the perfect details and writing with emotion and cool detachment simultaneously. I love her style because it is penetrating and precise but also sensual without being overwrought. You experience a Ducornet novel with all of your senses.”  —Jeff VanderMeer

“Linguistically explosive. . . . One of the most interesting American writers around.” —The Nation

Biographical Information

Rikki Ducornet is a transdisciplinary artist. Her work is animated by an interest in nature, Eros, tyranny, and the transcendent capacities of the creative imagination. She is a poet, fiction writer, essayist, and artist, and her fiction has been translated into fifteen languages. Her art has been exhibited internationally, most recently with Amnesty International’s traveling exhibit I Welcome, focused on the refugee crisis. She has received numerous fellowships and awards including an Arts and Letters Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Bard College Arts and Letters Award, the Prix Guerlain, a Critics’ Choice Award, and the Lannan Literary Award for Fiction. Her novel The Jade Cabinet was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.