Jordan Stump & Imani Perry discuss Marie NDiaye's "That Time of Year"

September 17, 2020, 7:30 PM

Jordan Stump and Imani Perry join us to discuss Stump's new translation of That Time of Year, by Marie NDiaye. This program will take place on Zoom. Register here:

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A nightmarish vision of otherness, privilege, and social amnesia, the latest from the world-renowned, Prix Goncourt-winning French novelist unveils a small community characterized by absurd kindness, labyrinthine bureaucracy, strange customs, missing persons, and ghostly apparitions.

Herman’s wife and child are nowhere to be found, and the weather in the village, perfectly agreeable just days earlier, has taken a sudden turn for the worse. Tourist season is over. It’s time for the vacationing Parisians, Herman and his family included, to abandon their rural getaways and return to normal life. But where has Herman’s family gone? Concerned, he sets out into the oppressive rain and cold for news of their whereabouts. The community he encounters, however, has become alien, practically unrecognizable, and his urgent inquiry, placed in the care of local officials, quickly recedes into the background, shuffled into a deck of labyrinthine bureaucracy and local custom. As time passes, Herman, wittingly and not, becomes one with a society defined by communal surveillance, strange traditions, ghostly apparitions, and a hospitality that verges on mania.

A literary horror story about power and assimilation, That Time of Year marks NDiaye once again as a contemporary master of the psychological novel. Working in the spirit of Leonora Carrington, Victor LaValle, and Kōbō Abe, NDiaye’s novel is a nightmarish vision of otherness, privilege, and social amnesia, told with potent clarity and a heady dose of the weird.

"Marie NDiaye is so intelligent, so composed, so good, that any description of her work feels like an understatement." —The New York Review of Books

Jordan Stump is one of the leading translators of innovative French literature. The recipient of numerous honors and prizes, he has translated books by Nobel laureate Claude Simon, Jean-Philippe Toussaint, and Eric Chevillard, as well as Jules Verne’s French-language novel The Mysterious Island. His translation of NDiaye’s All My Friends was shortlisted for the French-American Foundation Translation Prize.

Imani Perry is Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University and a faculty associate with the Programs in Law and Public Affairs, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Jazz Studies. She is the author of 6 books, including Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry,Vexy Thing: On Gender and Liberation, More Beautiful and More Terrible: The Embrace and Transcendence of Racial Inequality in the United States, among others. Her most recent book is Breathe: A Letter to My Sons, which was a finalist for the 2020 Chautauqua Prize and a finalist for the NAACP Image Award for Excellence in Nonfiction.