Fiction. 2014 Best Translated Book Award Finalist. Translated from the French by Nathanaël. MURDER is Danielle Collobert's first novel. Originally published in 1964 by Éditions Gallimard while Collobert was living as a political exile in Italy, this prose work was written against the backdrop of the Algerian War. Uncompromising in its exposure of the calculated cruelty of the quotidian, MURDER'S accusations have photographic precision, inculpating instants of habitual violence.
"Danielle Collobert was one of the strongest, yet also one of the most subtle--and the most marginalized--poetic voices to emerge from post-WW2 France. In this early work, she explores the world of one who is 'marked, ' yet she does so through an 'I' that makes this experience, and so many others, suddenly intimate, even intrusive. The 'I' becomes a 'we' that cannot be refused, and yet the sense of isolation--the possibility, which is the inevitability, of isolation--is what actually enables the text and creates its possibilities, which are myriad--and all magnificently rendered through Nathanaël's translation, which multiplies these possibilities and emphasizes the refusal of isolation that Collobert's text ultimately enacts. It's a political statement that works through the most internal channels, and that demands entrance into the reader's most constitutive zones."--Cole Swensen
"1960: Danielle Collobert was 20 years old, working in an art gallery, when she began writing the sharply contoured prose fictions--mini-récits, or little accounts or 'tellings' that appear in MURDER. 1961: The Algerian War. Collobert entered the underground network of the National Liberation Front (Algeria), emerging a year later and completing this book. As her dear friend Uccio Esposito Torigianni says, she speaks essentials: of writing and of death. This compelling book, Meurtre, supported by Raymond Queneau, was published in 1964 by Gallimard. 2013: Finally, MURDER, the luminous translation of Collobert's seminal Meurtre by the perfect translator, Nathanaël, author of many books including Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) and accomplished translator of Gail Scott, Hilda Hilst, Édouard Glissant and others."--Norma Cole
"A tracking of the confluences in melancholic nature, the signification in Collobert's important writing attends to joining the many outside solitary rooms. A man digs in sand encircling himself to stand; another swings a door open and is one day struck back by greater force; others chisel away at a mountain, unwittingly becoming arrested statues of selves in formation this way (elsewhere: 'I know there exists a certain continuity between this stone and the entire face of the girl'). Nathanaël's admirable translation brings forth what I listen for when I read: 'the cry out on the plain, ' 'half-light, ' 'the memory of a beautiful exhaustion.'"--Douglas A. Martin
"Danielle Collobert respects the most rigorous directions. She radicalizes the minimalism (of language, gesture, ideology) which could have been Beckett's at the close of the surge of the propaganda, and the certainties, which characterize the middle of this century. She extends the tactical neutrality of the Nouveau Roman. But this is no retreat: it is a matter, for her, of preserving the engagement of the writer from the bloody perversions of our ideals. The writer is not situated outside of History's contradictions. By the virtual power of words, she is situated both on the side of the executioners and the victims."--Dominique Grandmont
About the Author
Born in Rostrenen in 1940, Danielle Collobert left Bretagne for Paris at the age of eighteen where she worked in an art gallery and self-published her first poems in a book entitled Chants des guerres (1961). Both of Collobert's parents, and her aunt, who survived deportation to Ravensbrück, were members of the Résistance during World War II. Herself a supporter of Algerian independence, Collobert joined the FLN (the Algerian National Liberation Front), precipitating her exile in Italy, during which time she completed work on Meurtre, first published in 1964 by Éditions Gallimard with the unwavering support of Raymond Queneau. She worked for Révolution africaine, a short-lived journal created at the end of the Algerian war. Collobert's extensive travels, to Czechoslovakia, Indonesia, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, Mexico, Spain, Greece, Egypt, etc., did not prevent her from becoming a member of the group formed around Jean-Pierre Faye and the journal, Change. Her other works include Dire I et II (1972), a radio play the following year, Polyphonie, aired by France Culture, Il donc (1976) and Survie (1978). Upon her return from a trip to New York, Danielle Collobert took her own life in a hotel in Paris on her thirty-eighth birthday. Her complete works, in two volumes, edited by Françoise Morvan, augmented by several unpublished texts, were published by P.O.L. in 2005. Collobert's works available in English include IN THE ENVIRONS OF A FILM (Litmus Press, 2019), MURDER (Litmus Press, 2013), NOTEBOOKS, 1956-1978 (Litmus Press, 2003) and IT THEN (O Books, 1989).
Nathanaël is the author of a score of books written in English or in French, including SISYPHUS, OUTDONE.; Theatres of the Catastrophal (2012); the notebooks, Carnet de désaccords (2009), Carnet de délibérations (2011), Carnet de somme (2012); and the essay of correspondence, Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) (2009), first published in French as L'absence au lieu (2007). Her work has been translated into Basque, Greek, Slovene, and Spanish (Mexico), with book-length publications in Bulgarian and Portuguese (Brazil). The recipient of the Prix Alain-Grandbois for ...s'arrête? Je (2008), Nathanaël's translations include works by Alain Jugnon, Édouard Glissant, Catherine Mavrikakis, and Hilda Hilst (the latter in collaboration with Rachel Gontijo Araujo). Nathanaël's translation of MURDER by Danielle Collobert was a finalist for a Best Translated Book Award in 2014. Her translation of THE MAUSOLEUM OF LOVERS by Hervé Guibert has been recognized by fellowships from the PEN American Center and the Centre National du Livre de France. Nathanaël lives in Chicago.