Mathias Énard: Zone

Tell them of battles, kings, and elephants,

without the elegance, without the elephants,

only battles, cruel kings, and pawns,

“Comrade, one last handshake before the end

of the world,” says a madman

at the station in Milan,

Francis Servain Mirković is burdened

by the remark, burdened

by the contents

of his suitcase, by the contents

of his mind,

as the train steers to Rome,

it is not scenery that flash by,

it is his life; no home,

Balkan conscript, a spy,

dysfunctional lover, son,

former informer

in the Zone, epicenter

of my literary quakes,

“the Zone, land of the wrathful savage

gods who have been clashing


since the Bronze Age,” but he is

convinced that tomorrow he will

be a new man, as the train moves


is a threnody

of the guilt of nations,

of the sins of the world,

of over a century’s worth

of savagery,

a brutal montage

of conflict, training our eyes to truths 

that we prefer to turn away from, a book

to make our consciences flinch, no one

is ever prepared

for official truth

says our antihero, this man,

a product of a history

of violence,

a tragic aspect

of a portrait

of a man

of our time.

4 thoughts on “Mathias Énard: Zone”

  1. This is a different style of post from you…it got me intrigued. Just read a review about the book on the Guardian. It definitely sounds like something I’d be interested in. Thanks once again for introducing me to books I might never have come across. You’re a gem! X

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad someone noticed! Thank you for paying attention. 😊 It’s actually a nod to the style in which the novel is written. He doesn’t use any periods here! Periods appear only in chapters that quote a book that the character is reading and only on the very last page. I think it’s very effective in achieving the feeling of literally being in a moving train while reading his figurative train of thought. I highly recommend his beautiful little book about Michelangelo and Istanbul, “Tell Them of Battles, Kings & Elephants! I think you’d love that, too! Besides, I’m counting down to January with you. Haha!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh wow that sounds like an interesting style of writing. Something different! Have noted both books on my “to buy list” x


  2. Loved, loved, loved your review, Mira! Felt like I was listening to rap music 😊 I have this book on my Kindle, but haven’t read it yet. I’ve heard that Mathias Énard writes so beautifully. Thanks so much for your poetic review 😊 Finally managed to catch up with all your recent reviews 😊 Can’t wait for your next review 😊


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