The Queen’s Caprice


Seven enchanting new tales from the Prix Goncourt winner

“The most distinctive voice of his generation and the master magician of the contemporary French novel.” —The Washington Post

France’s preeminent fiction writer is frequently credited with a kind of literary magic, an ability to craft stories with such precision and detail that readers are caught off guard by the powerful currents of emotion and imagination that lie just beneath the placid surface of his writing. As Gary Indiana put it in Bookforum, “Echenoz risks everything in his fiction, gambling on the prodigious blandishments of his voice to lure his readers into a maze of improbabilities and preposterous happenings.”

The Queen’s Caprice—seven new stories presented in English for the first time—reveals Echenoz at the height of his talents. The author takes us on a journey across radically different places and landscapes, giving free rein to a “terrific sense of humor tinged with existential mischief” (L’Express). The title story explores a tiny corner of the French countryside; “Nelson” offers a brilliant miniaturist portrait of the hero of the Battle of Trafalgar; “Babylon” sketches the ancient city of Mesopotamia, based on trace descriptions from Herodotus; and other stories visit the forests of England, the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, Tampa Bay, and the interior of a submarine. Amid the thrill and allure of this voyage of words, “again and again we pause to savor the richness of Echenoz’s startling, crystalline observations” (Lydia Davis).



“Jean Echenoz’s short short stories are quirky, playful and subversive: Admiral Nelson is always seasick, the statues in the Luxembourg Garden wear baffling expressions, a beautiful woman swims underwater to an assignation. Once again, Echenoz masterfully reinvents the world by creating the illusion that improbable events might in fact be probable.”
—Lily Tuck, author of The News from Paraguay

News and Reviews

The New Yorker's Page Turner

Read a profile of author Jean Echenoz.

Complete Review

According to Complete Review, Jean Echenoz's The Queen's Caprice contains "surprising emotional power."

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