Sarinagara

Philippe Forest
translated by Pascale Torracinta


Fiction / History
$14, 228 pages
ISBN 978-1562791346
ebook 978-1562791216


Following the death of his young daughter, the narrator moves to Japan with the project of writing an essay on Japanese literature. There, on the other side of the earth, he experiences a series of incidents that connect him to a recurrent childhood dream and allow him to explore the depth of his own grief through the stories of others.

“A common and ill-informed prejudice says that poetry doesn't mean anything, that it is only words without an object. Or that it is the promise, never fulfilled, of a halt in the constant slippage of words into oblivion. This prejudice admits no other truth for poetry than emptiness: a single illumination that casts light on the vacuity of time.”

Sarinagara is a poignant meditation on the nature of grief, art, and memory. In Japanese, "Sarinagara" means "and yet." This word is the last word of one of the most famous poems of Japanese literature.

“Three art forms with different applications link three different lives. Sarinagara...ties the stories of an eighteenth century Haiku master, the innovator the modern Japanese novel in the nineteenth century, and a photographer of the horrors of Nagasaki. Tying these three tale together, Sarinagara won many awards in its original French language, and readers in English will now also see why as it poses and answers many questions.” —The Midwest Book Review


Born in Paris in 1962, Philippe Forest is the author of numerous essays on art and literature and of three novels, all published by Éditions Gallimard: L'Enfant éternel (The Eternal Child, winner of the Prix Femina for a first novel in 1997), Toute la nuit (All Night Long, 1999), and Sarinagara (winner of the Prix Décembre in 2004). He is currently a professor of literature at the University of Nantes, specializing in avant-gardes.

Pascale Torracinta is currently at work on a translation of the French poet Yves Bonnefoy's spiritual autobiography The Country Beyond and a (French) translation of Gloria Kurian Broder's Their Magician and Other Stories. In France, her most recent translation, The Work of the Imagination by Paul Harris, was published in March 2007 by Retz. Her essays, reviews, and translations have appeared in several magazines on both sides of the Atlantic, including The Threepenny Review and Poetry Northwest. She has taught French Literature at the University of Oxford and at the University of Geneva, and, for the last five years, at a high school in Cambridge. She lives in Boston.


Originally published in French as "Sarinagara" (Éditions Gallimard, Paris, 2004).

Recipient of the Hemingway Translation Grant, 2008

Cet ouvrage, publié dans le cadre d'un programme d'aide à la publication, bénéficie du soutien du Ministère des Affaires étrangères et du Service Culturel de l'Ambassade de France aux Etas-Unis.

This work, published as part of a program of aid for publication, received support from the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in the United States.