A review of

Minor Angels

by Antoine Volodine

Central question: Can a tribe of old ladies crash the rebirth of capitalism?
Format: 166 pages, cloth; Size: 9.3” x 5.8”; Price: $25.00; Publisher: University of Nebraska Press; Book designer: Dika Eckersley; Translated by: Jordan Stump; Typeset by: Bob Reitz; Typeface: Quadraat; Representative sentence: “But already Sabiha Pellegrini had thrust her right hand into my thoracic cavity, as Mongols do when they want a beast to stop living and become food, and now her hand crept onward; she sank her nails into the approximate location of my death, adroitly feeling her way around the darkest of obstacles, and her hooked fingers drew nearer to my death, preparing to give it the sharp pinch that would snuff it out at last.”

For some books, much is revealed by what the characters eat. The cuisine in Minor Angels is awful but oddly alluring, a gustatory gateway into the post-cataclysmic desperation of the characters. Imagine the flavors of rotten cabbage, gray apples, seagull tartare, and several milks, including ewe’s, mare’s and camel’s. In one of the few moments of true grotesquerie, a woman, “glistening… smooth and fat,” sits motionless, waiting to be force-fed by her sons for “cannibalistic purposes.” These tastes and images define Antoine Volodine’s thirteenth book, a novel that runs on big, sprawling ideas, as steadily conveyed by sensory perceptions.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Margaret Wappler

Margaret Wappler writes for Arthur, LA Weekly, and Nerve, among others. She lives in Los Angeles.

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