By Patrik Ouředník
Translated by Alexander Hertich
The end of the world is the least of the problems facing Gaspard Boisvert, erstwhile advisor to “the stupidest American president in history,” when he discovers that he may share the genes of a certain, infamous Austrian corporal, thanks to a dalliance on the part of his grandmother during the First World War.
Around the hapless Gaspard’s descent into amnesia and anti-social rebellion, an obsessive-compulsive narrator assembles 111 pithy chapters linked by the ultimate theme of all: the coming apocalypse. In this deadpan anti-novel, statistics and historical data are marshalled, and the divagations range over subjects as various as the history of religions, Viagra, vegetarianism and dietary taboos, aerial bombing, the Maltese national anthem, categories of suicide, varieties of stupidity, bathtubs, the critical density of the universe, pork and pigmen, and the etymology of the name Adolf.
Patrik Ouředník was born in Prague, but emigrated to France in 1984, where he still lives. He is the author of nineteen books, including fiction, essays, and poems. He is also the Czech translator of novels, short stories and plays from such writers as François Rabelais, Alfred Jarry, Raymond Queneau, Samuel Beckett, and Boris Vian. He has received a number of literary awards for his writing, including the Czech Literary Fund Award.
Alexander Hertich is a translator and professor of French literature. His translations have appeared in Dalkey Archive Press’s Best European Fiction 2015, 2016, and 2019.