Patrik Ourednik

Wednesday 22 February 2012
by  NLLG

Patrik Ourednik (in French sometimes known as Patrick; born April 23, 1957, in Prague) is a Czech author and translator, living in Paris.

Ourednik spent his youth in Prague. In 1984 he emigrated to France, where he first worked as a chess consultant, then as a librarian. From 1986 to 1998 he served as editor and head of the literature section of the quarterly L’Autre Europe. In 1992 he was instrumental in founding the Free University of Nouallaguet, and he has lectured there since 1995.

Translator from French into Czech (François Rabelais, Alfred Jarry, Raymond Queneau, Samuel Becket, Henri Michaux, Boris Vian, Claude Simon...) and from Czech into French (Bohumil Hrabal, Vladimír Holan, Jan Skácel, Miroslav Holub, Jiří Gruša, Ivan Wernisch...), Ourednik is also the author of various literary texts. His production is characterized by an interest in curious and surprising aspects of life, by an experimentation in exploring language, literary forms and genres, and by a constant attention to ludic aspects. Words, events, social stereotypes, readings, the story itself are continuously mixed up in a lucid, hilarious game of intertextuality as witnessed, for example, in three of his novels translated into English: Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century, The Opportune Moment, 1855, and Case Closed.

Europeana. A Brief History of the Twentieth Century (2001; Dalkey Archive Press, 2005)

Book of the Year in the Czech Republic (Lidové noviny), Top Shelf in USA (The Village Voice), translated into 23 languages (2012), Europeana is a mordant deconstruction of historical memory where all references – events, slogans, persons, dates – accumulate and then return, vague and vacillating, to alienate the reader.

The Opportune Moment, 1855 (2006; Dalkey Archive Press, 2011)

Book of the Year in Italy (La Stampa). In 1855, a group of anarchists, communists, and libertarians leaves Europe for Brazil in order to establish the colony Fraternitas, based on the principles of community and egalitarianism. The project collapses, as does the linear narration.

Case Closed (2006; Dalkey Archive Press, 2010)

Seemingly a detective novel, set in a dreamlike post-Communist Prague. Revolving around a fistful of harmless, humorous retirees who sit and chat on the local park bench, the plot is replete with mysterious hints, crippled language, unsolved crimes, at least one suspicious suicide, and a bizarre rape. Who, where, when, how, why?

 John Bolton: Reading Patrik Ourednik