Gérard Gavarry’s work is one of contemporary French literature’s best-kept secrets. That this should be so here in the United States is no surprise, granted that his books have not yet found their way into English translation—though Dalkey Archive Press will soon remedy that, with translations of Hop là! un deux trois and Façon d’un roman. The fact that Gavarry is not more broadly known in France is more perplexing, however, for the kind of writing that he has practiced for the last twenty-five years or so is bold, original, and innovative. It is as richly deserving of attention as that of any of Gavarry’s contemporaries, yet it has not appealed to a general readership, nor has it received its share of critical ink. One of the reasons for this may lie in what I feel to be Gavarry’s cardinal virtue: his writerly mobility. Reading through his work, it shortly becomes clear that he is unwilling to tread upon ground that he has already traversed, and that he is committed to producing books that come to us anew, each one deploying different narrative strategies and putting a variety of questions on the table for our consideration. The diversity of theme and approach in his books is most invigorating indeed, but it also makes them hard to categorize according to the conventional taxonomies that many critics (and indeed many general readers) rely upon in order to make their way through contemporary literature.
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