From the ruins of poetry, fiction and philosophy comes Touch To Affliction, a meditation on the notion of homeland, on patrie and the inhumanity that arises from it.
This is a text obsessed with ruins: the ruins of genre, of language, of the city, of the body. The history of the twentieth century is a history of barbarism, and Stephens walks, like a flÃ?Â¢neur, through its midst, experiencing through her ownbody the crumbled buildings, the dessicated cities, the eviscerated language and humanity of our time, calling out in passing to those before her who have contemplated atrocity: Martin Buber, Henryk Gorecki, Simone Weil. In the end, it considers what we are left with – indeed, what is left of us – as both participants in and heirs to the twentieth century.
Insistently political but never polemical, Touch To Affliction, at the interstices of thought andtheunnameable, is at once lament, accusation and elegy.
Praise for Paper City:
‘Understanding is almost antithetical to the project Stephens seems to have assigned herself, that of unraveling or radically altering our sense of logic, of language, of narrative, of body, of desire, of words on paper. She wants the book to burn in our hands and, indeed, it does.’
About the author
Nathalie Stephens (Nathanael) writes l'entre-genre in English and French. She is the author of a dozen books including ABSENCE WHERE AS (CLAUDE CAHUN AND THE UNOPENED BOOK) (Nighboat Books, 2009), At Alberta (BookThug, 2008), THE SORROW AND THE FAST OF IT (Nightboat Books, 2007), Touch to Affliction (Coach House, 2006), Paper City (Coach House, 2003), Je Nathanael (l'Hexagone, 2003) and L'Injure (l'Hexagone, 2004), a finalist for the 2005 Prix Alain-Grandbois and Prix Trillium. JE NATHANAEL exists in English self-translation (BookThug, 2006). Other work exists in Basque and Slovene with book-length translations in Bulgarian (Paradox Publishing, 2007). In addition to translating herself, Stephens has translated works by Catherine Mavrikakis, Gail Scott, Bhanu Kapil, and Sina Queyras.