First published in France in 2008, Mathias Enard’s novel Zone caught the attention of Anglophone readers two years later, when Charlotte Mandell’s masterful translation was printed by an Ameri-can press, Open Letter Books. This new British edition not only broadens the book’s potential audience, but also marks the birth of a new publisher: Fitzcarraldo Editions, an offshoot of the arts and literature journal The White Review. Presumably a nod to Werner Herzog’s quixotic film, the imprint’s name acknowledges the idealism of trying to turn a profit from ‘ambitious, imaginative and innovative writing’ (in the words of its website). If Zone is anything to go by, Fitzcarraldo deserves every success.
The book tells the story of Francis Mirković, a French intelligence agent on the run from his former life. We meet Mirković on a train from Milan to Rome, where he hopes to sell a suitcase full of secrets before getting out of the game. Vitally, we never witness his