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The Explosion of the Radiator Hose: A Novel
     

The Explosion of the Radiator Hose: A Novel

by Jean Rolin
 

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In this nominally true story of an epic, transcontinental road trip, Jean Rolin travels to Africa from darkest France, accompanying a battered Audi to its new life as a taxi to be operated by the family of a Congolese security guard. The ghost of Joseph Conrad haunts Rolin's journey, as do memories of his expatriate youth in Kinshasa in the early 1960s—but no

Overview

In this nominally true story of an epic, transcontinental road trip, Jean Rolin travels to Africa from darkest France, accompanying a battered Audi to its new life as a taxi to be operated by the family of a Congolese security guard. The ghost of Joseph Conrad haunts Rolin's journey, as do memories of his expatriate youth in Kinshasa in the early 1960s—but no less present are W. G. Sebald and Marcel Proust, who are the guiding lights for Rolin's sensual and digressive attack upon history: his own as well as the world's. By turns comic, lyrical, gruesome, and humane, The Explosion of the Radiator Hose is a one-of-a-kind travelogue, and no less an exploration of what it means to be human in a life of perpetual exile and migration.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Vaguely about importing an Audi from France to deep in the Congo, this twisted tale becomes a canvas for French journalist Rolin's meditations, counter-histories, and digressions into the literature of colonialism, his first work of fiction to be translated into English. The narration begins as Rolin and his two Congolese companions blow a radiator hose on a desolate stretch of highway just short of their goal, Kinshasa. In addition to faulty mechanics, Rolin's adversaries will include petty thieves who menace the car at every step, bureaucrats in need of bribes, and the sheer absurdity of his quest. Told in small, overlapping fragments, this book is strewn with incidental detail, such as the death of Congolese freedom-fighter Lumumba, the social dynamics of cargo ship crews, and the paranoid theory that French authorities attempt to humiliate African immigrants by overheating the Paris subway. Rolin's snaking, clause-ridden sentences exude an ornery precision, mixing prosaic observations with literary allusion, snide humor, political critique, and personal history. This is a fine, understated novelistic essay only slightly weakened by its hodgepodge structure. (Apr.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781564786487
Publisher:
Dalkey Archive Press
Publication date:
04/05/2011
Series:
French Literature Series
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
168
File size:
564 KB

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

Jean Rolin is a French writer and journalist, the winner of the 1988 Albert
Londres Prize
for journalism, and the 1996
Prix Médicis for his novel
L’organisation. As a student, he
was closely involved—along with
his older brother Olivier (the author
of Hotel Crystal)—in the May
’68 uprising. He is the author of
essays, novels, and short stories.
In 2006, his book L’Homme qui a
vu l’ours
won the Prix Ptolémée.

Louise Rogers Lalaurie is a writer,
translator, and editor based near
Paris, where she has lived since
1991 with her French husband
and two sons.

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