André Ourednik, 2023, Volodia, La Baconnière, Genève
Who hasn't wished misfortune on a loathsome individual? There is no shortage of candidates in our fantasies, but one of them is easily identified: a paranoid, self-important dictator who invades the neighboring country in the name of an obscure idea of geo-historical grandeur. To determine the best way to kill Volodia, four scenarios are tested and debated by a panel of scientists: in an underground labyrinth; in a strange ivory tower; in a giant aquarium under the eyes of the assembly at the United Nations; and with fire, of course, purifying and ancestral.
Nourished by obscene medieval tales, Vladimir Sorokin's brutal anticipation and Antoine Volodine's caustic ostalgy, this novel reminds us that putting to death is one of the possible tales to tell in the face of reality.
In a bookstore ISBN: 978-2-889601-12-7 (Google search)
Reviews and comments
“Neruda, in Residence on Earth, doomed General Franco to it. Dante - go hop! - had all of his political enemies brought down to it. Today, it's Vladimir Putin's turn to go to hell, and it's the turn of the Czech-Swiss André Ourednik to send him there the easy way... a sadistic refinement worthy of The Penal Colony or The Garden of Torments, the main thing being not so much that he dies, but that he enjoys it first... After all, what's the need for pretexts when it's all just literature? Volodia, however cruel it may seem to sensitive souls, will always cause less suffering than the smallest missile in the Ukraine, or the smallest spetsnaz in Grozny. Of course, it won't solve anything either, just as the most cheerful game of massacre has never brought oppression down a single notch, but all the same, we wouldn't hate to see Putin find it under his pillow one evening...” - Yann Fastier Le Matricule des Anges: Le mensuel de la littérature contemporaine, No. 245, July-August 2023
“Born in Prague in 1978, ten years after the Russians brutally put an end to Czechoslovakia's democratic aspirations, the invasion of Ukraine stirred a dull anger in the author. Volodia's torments are described with undeniable literary talent, sometimes poetically, precisely, frighteningly, humorously. André Ourednik takes the opportunity to mock other heads of state, notably Joe Biden, because he is not Manichean. For those who find this book distasteful, he offers this quotation from Emil Cioran: 'If, at the whim of an evil power, we lost the use of speech, no one would be safe. The need for murder, inscribed in our blood, we have succeeded in passing on to our thoughts; this acrobatics alone explains the possibility, and permanence, of society.'” - Patrick Morier-Genoud, Good for the head, September 8, 2023
“The interest of André Ourednik's text is to place these questions within the framework of the imaginary. The text does not realize Volodia's tortures and killings: it fantasizes and represents them. Does this relieve us of our feelings of horror, powerlessness and despair in the face of wars and bloodthirsty regimes? Perhaps the story's aim is less cathartic than philosophical... In this short story, baroque in its mise en abime, the author takes a step back, in order to offer a vision of (in)human behavior through fiction in which futuristic science plays a spectacular role ... A thought-provoking read that questions notions of justice and vengeance...” - Claudine Gaetzi viceversalitterature.ch, 31.7.2003
“..it's fun and wide-eyed to read this uplifting tale ! " - Olivier Babel, Swiss Book MAGAZINE, No.5, Spring/Summer 2023
“...With this short anticipation tale, André Ourednik makes clear reference to Vladimir Putin and all the gangster-masculinist decorum that surrounds him. So there's a certain pleasure in seeing the beast die fictitiously four times in circumstances that ridicule everything it represents, starting with the patriarchal symbol of the absolute ruler. This humorous philosophical tale is a success” - Stéphane Babey, Vigousse, 23.6.2023
“How do you get rid of a tyrant? By delivering him to a voracious beast, by quartering him, drowning him, putting him on a spit. Four scenarios of torture as old as time, which the dystopian, futuristic universe of this short novel dresses up with technological stratagems, developing refinements of cruelty in a form of competition between morbid imaginations. A raw and jubilant tale at once, leaving Volodia, autocrat of a Russian-speaking ex-federation, to the fate deserved by some of the most prominent figures of recent times.” - Nicolas Julliard, QWERTZ, Radio Télévision Suisse literary newsletter, 26.5.2023
“A caustic, dense, excessive and necessary little tale. As are all exutoires.” - Thierry Raboud, La Liberté, 5.3.2023
“Accustomed to mixing science (fiction) and contemporary issues, André Ourednik presents a disgusting, but wickedly cathartic little tale. Volodia is a relief from powerlessness. A book to be handed to anyone who has been heard to say "we must kill Putin". Provided that they are capable of distance.” - Diana-Alice Ramsauer, Le regard libre, 2.5.2023
“One is not sure where to classify this short text of about 70 pages: nightmares follow one another, interspersed with reflections of scientists. We don't understand everything, but the device intrigues, and we think as much of Wes Craven's Nightmare Claws (1984) only for Doug Liman's Edge of Tomorrow (2014).” - Julien Coquet, Toute la culture, 27.4.2023